Window shopping for stories

Once or twice a week, I leave the comfort of my home sweatpants-and-sofa writing cocoon and spend the day at a community workspace, where for a monthly membership fee I can show up with my laptop, grab a desk or comfy chair, and do my thing against the backdrop of four different walls.

It’s not just the change of scenery that I need, though. There’s also a certain amount of stimulation that’s pleasantly, constructively distracting. This workspace is located in a historic building on a super-old street in Kingston, NY, an uptown district that’s slowly being revived with funky restaurants, offbeat shops, art galleries, and the like. There’s life here. I can chat with other workspace members who are all working on interesting projects, or glance up from my writing to people-watch through the front window. What I most love, though, is wandering around the neighborhood when I need a break. Because the neighborhood is full of the weirdest, funniest, WTF-type window displays.

I’ve always loved street window shopping, especially where the windows don’t belong to chain stores. Somebody put a bunch of objects together and stuck them somewhere for all to see. Sometimes they’re objects that should never be in the same place at the same time. Sometimes they’re objects that wouldn’t normally appear in your day. And sometimes they stay with you and show up in your writing, either as the spark of an idea or part of a character. Here’s what I found the other day:

"What do you believe in?" he asked. She didn't know. Angels were so beautiful, with their fashion sense and feathers, but the earthbound icons her mother worshipped seemed so much more serious and hardworking.












Grandpa didn't just collect old clocks because he thought they looked cool. He figured that at any given moment, one of them was bound to tell him the time he wanted it to be.













Sometimes all it takes to be someone else is the right accessory, and she would throw on a wig before going out the way other people throw on scarves or jewelry.














Her friends cracked up over the weird packaging and over-enthusiastic names for snack foods, but to the girl, they were filled with the colors, tastes, and smells of Saturday mornings at her aunt's house.