happiness in green
A bright green leaf tickles your nose when you enter the room. There are plants everywhere; on shelves, on the floor, hanging from the ceiling. The room smells fresh, rather like the smell of soil after rain. All that foliage drowns out the noise from outside, and you find a nice armchair to sit on. The velvety fabric is soft to your touch, bearing marks of many people who sat there before. The light comes through large windows, hitting every leaf, strange shadows playing on the bright walls. A pot of coffee sits on the small table, the mist curling around the leaves and stems.
I have been thinking a lot about one of mnml scholar’s recent blog posts, titled “Collecting pens as a practice in happiness”. I really enjoy reading his musings about the act of pen collecting, and this post especially got me thinking about my own pen collection and how can I define my concept of happiness in my pen collecting. What exactly makes me happy about fountain pens?
In order to explore this question a bit further, I inked up one of my fanciest and well-used pens, Platinum #3776 Century with a medium nib. It was my first pen with a gold nib and it was love at first sight. I was looking to dip my toes in the Japanese pens with a gold nib, and there were three popular candidates:
Sailor Pro Gear Slim (I actually owned one later on, but the nib didn’t turn out to be to my tastes)
Platinum #3776 Century
Pilot Custom 74 (I do own some Pilot pens that I like, but not this one)
I had decided to go to the store in order to get a decent feel of the pen and decide which one will be my first Japanese pen. The first thing that caught my attention was the green colour of the Platinum Century. Green is my favourite colour, and this one is a little hard to describe. It’s slightly see through -especially in the cap- but its colour is so dark that it looks like a traditional black pen with gold trim. The transparency of the green is like a little secret, revealed only when the light hits it just right. It reminds me of walks in the forest. When it’s cloudy the leaves are dark and the trees ominous. The warm sunlight transforms it into a wonderfully magical place. Leaves turn a little transparent, light shining off every drop of dew, gold glittering everywhere. I grew up in a very large city, so going to the forest in the summer was special for me. Breathing in the cool, pine scented air, I’d daydream about fairies playing in little pools of sunlight, drunk on sun soaked dew like champagne.
I had tried another one of the pen in the store, and bought an unopened one, so I was super excited to sit in a little cafe to try out my new pen. I uncapped the pen to write.
It did not.
I took it to the store pretty quick, and it turned out to be a case of misaligned tines. After a quick fix, the Platinum Century has written like a dream every time since. Right now, it is inked with Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-Matsu. This ink was a little hard to track down since they had changed the bottles into small Shikiori bottles, and I wanted to get it in the large and flat Jentle bottle. It’s quite specific, but when you have enough ink to last you a lifetime, or more, you can afford to make the “hunt” for a specific ink more interesting. Especially if it is a wonderful green ink. Eventually I found it in a tiny store, hidden away from the passersby in a passage. Since I got this ink, it has been constantly inked in the Platinum Century. Tokiwa-Matsu is cool toned when writing, and dries to a warmer green that’s much more reminiscent of the colour of leaves and moss.
Okay, I think this pen distills what makes me happy about fountain pens, what brings me the most joy while writing. Almost all of my inks and fountain pens and notebooks remind me of something, something that I want to hold on to. It can be the leaves in a forest, a trip that I waited years to take, an old friend, the adventure of that pen itself. All of them have a piece of me that I want to keep petrified like a fly in a piece of amber. Comfort and the writing experience are very important as well, but I think those are a given. If I don’t think I wouldn’t be comfortable writing with a pen for hours, I don’t even consider buying it.
The maintenance ritual -cleaning, inking up, etc- might not seem like the most fun activity in the world, but I enjoy it. Opening up a podcast, a nice cup of coffee (please don’t mix the cups you are using and dip the pen into the coffee instead of the ink like I did), and cleaning pens has become a weekly opportunity to relax. I have always liked keeping my tools in good condition even if it’s just a kitchen knife that needs sharpening, and fountain pens are no different. It’s part of the joy they bring me.
I enjoy the act of writing, even if it is just a shopping list or a phone number. Fountain pens make writing more enjoyable for me, a good pen on good paper is a priceless experience. How can fountain pens not make me happy when they make writing even more enjoyable?
I can't believe this is my tenth post and it has been exactly a month since I started writing this blog. It's not that much, but here's to a hundred more. Thank you for reading!