A Portrait of a Non Writer:
Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Experience Diego Campos
[Article appears as it was published in Santanero Zine issue #4]
To many, Diego Campos is an unknown—just another normal guy who lives in Santa Ana. He drives a normal car. He has his morning coffee. He goes to work. He has a pint now and then at one of the local beer stops. However, to a select few, Diego is a poet, an artist, a revolutionary, the patron of the Santanero content-less literary art movement. His life itself is a work of art.
For years, I’ve contemplated a way to capture the story of Diego. I admired him from afar, and I wanted the world to know his life and be inspired by it. But how could I do it? How does one document the story of a man who refuses to write, to be photographed, or to be recorded in any way?
I was intimidated, but I had a plan. I befriended Diego; I became his confidant. Slowly but surely he began to reveal his inner thoughts to me. While so many have only scratched the surface of the mystery that is Diego, I began to dig into its core. I understood his genius. I became intoxicated with his company. He was a man so interesting that I started to lose touch with my loved ones. My previous friends grew to hate me. My mother would call me insistently, but to no avail; I would never pick up. My girlfriend even thought I was a homosexual. “I don’t understand it!” she would scream. “Why else would you spend so much time with him and not with me?” Unfortunately, my explanations would not suffice to keep her at home. She eventually moved back in with her mother.
Despite everything, I was not bothered. I knew the project was worth it, but I still had one problem. Although I had managed to stay close to Diego, I was unable to record him. I dared not to carry around my recorder, even in secret, for fear that, if caught, I would never again be allowed to talk to him or be in his presence. My plan was to memorize and then write it down later. In this way, I would not endanger my friendship with the man.
It is now more than two years since I began this project and I’ve compiled thousands of notes filled with countless observations of events, words, and actions involving Diego. Everyday after I had spent time with him, I would come home running eager to write down the day’s happenings. Today, I am finally ready to organize my notes into what I can roughly consider somewhat of a portrait of a man whose life is drenched in secrecy and mystery. Diego’s life is an enigma that so many cannot even begin to comprehend, yet I am determined with these entries to build a picture that can reveal the answer.
Still, I am hesitant, with every word that I write, I push myself further away from the man that has been my life the past 2 years, 3 months, 14 days, and 7 hours. Once this is published there is no way that I can ever show my face to him again. Of course, I could do this anonymously, but who else besides me could tell these stories. I am the only link to all of them and surely a man like Diego would quickly figure it out.
My hand trembles and fear enters my body, but I am determined to write. Is it selfishness? Do I continue to write because I am certain that once this story is complete, it will bring me a rush of fame and recognition from my peers? Or is it pure altruism? Diego‘s story, I am positive, will inspire and provide insight to so many. After all, that was my intention for starting the project in the first place. I believe I have said this already, have I not? But I continue to stall! Why? Am I truly ready to betray the man I have considered my closest friend? Was he not going to be…what do the kids call it now a days…ah yes, my best friend forever? No! I cannot continue to fall into these tangents. I have to begin. I have to write. If Diego will not write, I will be the man to write for him. It is the right thing to do. I shall begin now…