Show, don’t tell

I can hear him clomping up the stairs before he actually appears. When he gets to the top and enters the kitchen, he stomps twice more at the top, each foot for emphasis, before looking around, hitching up his pants and adjusting his suspenders, and asking, “So?”

This is my grandfather.

I don’t think his age is obvious. He looks like any older man, but you can’t tell that he’s an old man. What’s left of his silver hair is combed over, right to left, and his shirt doesn’t always get quite tucked in around his pot belly. His fingers are stained from nicotine — he has always smoked like a chimney, though possibly slightly less in later years — and his 5’11” frame is a little stooped when he stands.

He and my grandmother owned an antiques shop for what seemed like forever, which is why I guess I don’t think they’re as old as they are — retirement age is relative. He is about two things — antiques and history. To me, anyways. The spelling may be atrocious, but my family has two incredibly thick books detailing our family’s history, both on my mom’s mom’s side of the family, and my mom’s dad’s side of the family. When you’re Ukrainian and likely related to half the population of Saskatchewan, that’s no small feat.


I really just wanted to write that first paragraph. The rest is the best I can flesh it out, maybe more I’ll add later. Yes, there’s more I can add right now, but I’m not sure how much I want to say. I’ve heard “Show, don’t tell,” for a long time, and I love it as a writing exercise.

For me, stress manifests physically. My skin breaks out, I can’t eat certain foods that I usually do because they’ll cause another allergic reaction, I’m light-headed and off-balance. And I have this insane desire to move when I’m stressed. I usually run, but since I run with my emotions, I sprint right off the bat instead of keeping it at a decent pace, and ruining what would otherwise be a steady run. I beat myself up in the pool, doing lap after lap until I realize that my face is flushed and I’m incredibly oxygen deprived. And it turns out, you know you’re having a rough day when you finish your yoga session in tears.

I’m stressed to the point where I want to say this. Like I said, maybe later I’ll add more.

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