This particular exercise included not only a starting line, but also an ending line. The start was:
I graduated from high school in 1974 and dreamed of living the bohemian life." and the ending was supposed to be "Why?" I am asked.
This was hard. Never mind the tense issues (the start is past and the finish is present), the piece is supposed to end in a question -- leaving the reader hanging...
I tried, though, and this is what I came up with.
"I graduated from high school in 1974 and dreamed of living the bohemian life." he said as he put the only visible remnant of that dream - a faded tie dyed shirt, torn and dirty with the kind of dirt that will never come out no matter how many cups of TIDE, Cheer, or whatever the detergent du jour you use - into his dresser.
"What happened?" I asked, noting that the rest of his apartment - a co-op albeit in the Village - was an homage to Kloss an upscale Danish designer; and that his hair was the comfortable mess that was due to a very expensive urban hair stylist.
He shrugged "I grew up. I learned that I needed to actually earn money. That smoking hashish under glass wasn't nearly as wonderful as baked Alaska or fresh tuna fillets. I learned that I liked what I could create when I thought, and hash just wasn't conducive to thought."
"Was it sudden? Like a bolt of lightening? Or did you discover this on mini-breaks from your hash haze?"
"Pretty much a combination. I started going clean so I could get a job and I started staying clean so I could work during the week. Then, one weekend with my buddies, we spent the entire weekend in a thicket in Central Park -- most of them were vets made homeless by the craziness following 'Nam -- anyway, we were smoking, dropping acid, tripping. The following Monday I stumbled to work, retched in the toilet and again in the sink when I put on my smelly clothes after shaving in the loo down the hall from my desk. I looked at my face - haggard and gray - in the mirror and thought 'I hate this feeling'. I struggled through that week but the next weekend I met up with the guys. Same thicket, same game plan, and I told them I was done.
"They were pissed - furious that the one who could afford to buy the stuff was leaving. But I did leave.
"The next Monday I went into the office and went up to Personnel - it wasn't called HR then - and I asked to speak with the Vice President of Personnel. When I went into his office I blurted "I'm a drug addict and I need help." Instead of firing me on the spot, he helped me stay clean."
"Wow! What a story!" I said. "He must have been pretty cool. Is that where you still work?"
"Why do you ask so many questions?"
See I didn't quite get there but I did end on a question... and in the present tense so I guess that counts for something.....