one conversation is nearly over

For almost a year I’ve been visiting an odd bit of curbing in a vacant lot where a supermarket was once located. There are two or three places where the curbing of the store’s parking lot had been broken up. It’s not clear if that destruction was accidental, intentional or organic. What was clear, though, was that somebody—for reasons entirely unclear—had tied a length of red PVC wire around a chunk of the broken curbing and carried it some sixty feet away.

And then set it down. I’ve been fascinated by it ever since. Why was it moved from its original position? Why that particular chunk of curbing? Why fashion a carrying handle from red PVC wire when it would be just as easy—easier, in fact—to carry it in your hands? And why leave it where it was left? It made absolutely no sense. I loved it.

Over time, the chunk of curbing was moved again—maybe twenty or thirty feet from its last position, and perhaps it would have been moved farther had the red PVC wire ‘handle’ not snapped. On a later visit I noticed the curbing had been overturned and another chunk of curbing had been carried and set down nearby.

It continued to make no sense, and I continued to be fascinated by it. But now the conversation is almost over. On my last visit, the curbing had been moved once again.

As you can see, the chunk of curbing has been moved and the red PVC wire left behind. In fact, both chunks of curbing have been shifted a few feet from their last positions.

I suspect kids are responsible for most of the recent moving, if only because young boys do things for reasons even they don’t understand—or no reason at all. It doesn’t matter, really who moved them, or even why. There’s something appealing about these migrating chunks of curbing. But the wind will probably blow away the red PVC wire eventually. And then the conversation will be over.

I’ll continue to visit the vacant lot, of course. There’s something about the slow reclamation process that I find weirdly comforting and attractive. There’s a sort of drama to it, though a very patient drama. It’s a different sort of conversation—less peculiar, more fundamental.

This abandoned lot is set on a fairly busy thoroughfare in a moderately poor neighborhood. Nearby is a car-wash, a small local Latino-operated auto repair shop, and an indie copying center that never seems to have any customers. The road noise is vicious—at least until you get near the back of the empty lot. Then it becomes muted, and it’s difficult to distinguish between the road noise and the sussuration of wind through the trees.

It’s not quite tranquil. But you can sense that tranquility used to exist here, and may some day return. That’s a conversation I’d like to join.

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6 thoughts on “one conversation is nearly over

  1. Yeah, 10 year old boys. It’s exactly like the sort of thing my guys would do. Which as you say has its own sort of charm. Their lack of conscious thought about the things they do can really drive a person batshit after a (short) while when living with them in close quarters though. Just sayin’.

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    • You could probably disconnect big chunks of the brains of young boys and nobody would notice any difference in their behavior. Now that I think about it, that’s probably true up until about the age 24. Or so.

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  2. What a great post. You’re a guy after my own heart. The idea of returning to this ccene for the reasons you do and finding tranquility there is among my own reasons for making art. Thanks for posting.

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