The principal is a man of unswerving integrity: his note-taking jogs his memory and reminds him how and where to fill in blanks in the school’s functioning.
José Luis was a film director and a human observer, and his integrity was for the sake of his art. Back in the 80s, he carried a little pencil and slips of white paper in the breast pocket of his shirt. You would say something that would make him throw back his head in a burst of laughter. Then his head would return to its vertical position, and then swing down as he wrote your phrase down.
“I can use that!”
He would note a color, or he would catch a person wrapping a lock of hair around her thumb, and make a note of that gesture. Gestures often seemed to him the most direct way into a character’s mind. He would write down, “Wrap hair around thumb!” Then, he would look up at you in triumph.
“Details, details, big life is in the little! You must learn to see what is around you!”
I have always watched. I am the youngest: I watched and saw lots of stuff, but I never wrote it down.
José Luis thought so fast that his mouth had trouble keeping up with his ideas. He would speak with his Andalusian accent at a speed that would make rappers seem on pause. I used to wait while words hurtled out of his mouth, watch when he would take a breath, and be thrilled when the words finally got out of the starting gate and started galloping around the track.
I wonder where those slips of white paper are? I know he had them filed, back when he still lived in Madrid. I wonder if he has a pencil with him where he is now? If so, he is jotting down, “Sunrise, golden with pink, all lit up. A transparent salmon?” or “I have never seen so many harps!”
Rest in peace and Technicolor, dear friend.