“Towery city and branchy between towers; Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded.”–Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first indication that I’m not a visionary came when I rocked the PSAT in high school. No one had told me it was coming; no one had explained its purpose or meaning. All I remember is that a class of us was herded into a room small tables and given No. 2 pencils. For the next hour or two, I lazed through the math problems and had pencil sword fights with my pal Susan.
Who knew there’d be results for that test reported to the guidance counselor? Who knew I’d go on to take the SAT the next year and would do well enough to get some big, happy financial rewards thanks to the combination of PSAT and SAT? Even more of who knew happened a few years later when I took the GRE test–this time quaking properly with stress–and it turned out my ability to stay inside the lines with a No. 2 pencil reaped me significant gains throughout graduate school.
Who knew that
even though it pains me to roll out of bed before 10:30 a.m.,
even though I can’t control the direction of a vehicle when driving in reverse,
even though I have to shriek a little and make pitiful whimpering sounds when lighting a fire,
even though I can’t stop myself some nights from eating a Snickers bar before the Oreo course,
even though I recently started doing a jigsaw puzzle that depicts the cacophony of Times Square, with its traffic and billboards and branding, and had to announce to my husband, “This 1,000 piece puzzle is going to be easy for me. It feels exactly like the inside of my head,”
even though all these things are true,
who knew I’d be good at filling in the bubbles on multiple choice tests?
Trust me, I’m not bragging. Rather, the fact that I excel when faced with limited options and restricted thinking could be considered a foible. This shortcoming has been highlighted for me this past week during our time of inn-sitting. The owner of the inn, Andus, is a German anthropologist who did his dissertation on the homes and living spaces of Cappadocia. When he first came to Cappadocia some 30 years ago, it was for academic work–but then his imagination was caught by the caves and fairy chimneys that dot the area. Eventually, he ended up spotting Just the Right Bit of Ruins and, in a true act of vision, renovating them into a most-charming bit of modernized antiquity.
As I’ve stood in the kitchen at the inn, looking at the “before” photos, from the time when Andus first rented and then bought the place, I feel positively sheepish that I’m able to fill in bubbles accurately with my trusty No. 2 and, when in doubt, choose the Letter C. In contrast to this pedantic gift of mine, Andus’ creative ability to see what was there and what it could be makes me want to poke graphite into my eye and then eat the eraser as a means of assuaging the pain of having graphite in my eye.
If you, too, would like to feel abashed and diminished with regards to what you’ve done in life, take a look at these photos:
Here’s the inn when Andus first spotted it:
Here’s the inn today (oh, all right: two days ago), from the same aspect:
Seriously, I look at these changes and can’t imagine imagining them. However, if anyone ever constructs a Cappadocian Fairy Chimney Living standardized test (the CFCL), I assure you
I will blow those bubbles out of the water.