I took a second photo walk today at a local park, and I opted to switch between color and monochrome for various shots. The sight of the above photo evoked a memory of a flea market I visited with my sister on a spring Saturday afternoon 38 years ago.
At the time we lived a block away from Main Street, and there were varied, sometimes bizarre retail outlets littered along the street. One was a shop that was a thinly-veiled front for drug paraphernalia like bongs and coke cutters. I walked inside once and the clerk behind the counter quickly pointed an “Adults Only” sign. I was inside long enough to notice they were selling bootleg Mickey Mouse figurines that held “F*ck Iran!” picket signs. Around the corner from the head shop was an oddball, one-off plaza that seemed remarkable at the time for its sturdiness. It was as if it took its Cold War origin seriously enough to try to one-up the Soviet love of concrete and right angles.
The plaza was also unusual for its U shape which made it hard to see what sort of businesses dwelt there without penetrating the perimeter. After my micro-eviction from the head shop, I was wary of treading where I might not belong. I asked my sister if she’d come along to see what was inside the plaza. Once we arrived, we saw that nothing was open on the weekends except a TV shop and a flea market.
The flea market had plenty of vendor and customers, but there was nothing for sale that interested me. I lost sight of my sister within a minute of walking inside, and I was filled with dreadful boredom that quickly converted to an unreality of sorts. I suddenly felt as if I’d accidentally time traveled to sometime around 1966, but I landed not in some pivotal moment of history but on a lackluster Saturday retail afternoon in paltry Podunk Junction where everybody had just discovered polyester clothing.
Until I found my sister, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I hadn’t stumbled into a different era. We emerged from the concrete plaza to find that the sunny day had turned overcast and windswept. The song “Eleanor Rigby” played in my mind the whole way home.
When we walked in the door at home, I was relieved to see my mom cooking tacos in the kitchen and to hear my brother watching He-Man in the living room. As I feel asleep that night, I rested secure in the sense that I really was living in the year 1983, and I was grateful that time travel is impossible. I mean, who is to say that we’d be able to control such travel. What if we landed in some retail purgatory?
This week is the third anniversary of my blog. In honor of this occasion, I am reblogging the first substantial post I wrote here, and it is the reason I started the blog. I felt compelled to write publicly about the loss of a friend to suicide, and the writing of those feelings made me realize that I was equal to the task of sustaining a blog. Since this reblogged post refers to suicide, it is my duty to tell you that if you are struggling with thoughts of ending your life, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Her name was not Cecelia, but she could have worn that name like an ermine mantle, with her red curly hair and blue eyes that spoke of the frozen North. Her hair made me think of Viking escapades. At first sight of her, I recalled how St. Brendan spotted Judas chained to a rock in the North Atlantic and that I imagined long ago that the Vikings had also witnessed the captive Judas at sea, his significance lost on them. Both St. Brendan and the Vikings may have visited America, a land unknown to others of their homelands. Like them, Cecelia went to a place unknown but imagined by those of us left behind. Now Cecelia’s red hair has been buried since January, because that was when she took her life.
I feel it is apt to mention something as obscure as St. Brendan’s voyage to America because it ties…
Yesterday Lima was lucky to have missed the tornadoes that struck south of us. The grass around the frogs above show the toll the weather has taken this spring in this county. We’ve had too much rain, so much so that farm fields are full of puddles and last year’s harvest stubble.
This morning I dropped off my library books and walked through the Children’s Garden next door. This garden is a true treasure for all ages in this area. It’s staffed by master gardener and student volunteers. In all of my years visiting this place, I’ve yet to see a planting that isn’t pitch perfect, if I may stretch a term from music to landscaping.
I love to see the peonies in bloom here. This year I did not miss them. They remind me of the best part of a time long gone that I described in my post about houses with asphalt siding. During our five years in one of those crumbling, asphalt-sides houses, we enjoyed a massive classic lilac bush in the back yard, in whose wake a few peony bushes bloomed. The scent of those peonies was both light and dusky. We found newspapers from 1917-8 beneath the flooring in one of the rooms of that house. I imagined that the peonies had been planted by a woman with massive hair piled atop her head as was the fashion in those days. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she smelled just like the peonies in bloom.
This morning I lingered long enough waiting for a train to take the above picture with my phone. The house is the lone survivor of several demolitions on that block, and the number of homes with asphalt siding in Lima is dwindling.
I lived in a home with asphalt siding for several years while I was growing up. Spotting a similar house this morning somehow reminded me of something my mom once told me about ghosts. She said what may seem to be ghosts may actually be impressions left by people who are living. I myself believe that God allows us to see anything he feels we need to know, and it is possible that in his wisdom he may show us images of the living or the dead.
If our old house were haunted by our living selves, someone would see us as we were back in the mid-80’s. My hair would be bleached from a summer in the city pool, and the home perm I’d gotten on top of it would have accidentally given me Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” hairdo. Likewise, my sister would be studying the fallout from her home perm and wondering how soon she could rid herself of Barbara Streisand’s look from A Star is Born. My brother would be watching He-Man while my mom wondered how we were going to survive the rubber plant strike. My dad would be standing at the fridge, eating peanut butter straight from the jar. His cuticles and eyelashes would still be stained black from his work in that factory. My mom would be wearing the navy blue dotted shirt she wore most days for a whole year.
If I had the chance to see an echo of that scene, I’d know all over again that those were the days that made me. I’m happy with a working class job. No matter how many shirts I own, I usually end up rotating just a few of them until they wear out. I’m grateful that my growing up taught me that less can be more.
A liquid can assume the shape of any vessel in which it is stored, and this reservoir has curved borders since it would be strange indeed to find a reservoir with angled corners. I suppose a polygonal shape would be too weak to withstand the pressure that water exerts. And now I remember learning that a circle is a polygon with infinite sides, so a rounded corner could distribute the pressure and mass of water over more pressure points that can be easily counted.
All of the foregoing is a stream-of-consciousness related to my school days. The image above shows a place I gravitated toward during that era of my life. I’d go to this reservoir to walk alone and clear my mind, which was not so easy to do at that time given all of the angst and information that was stuffed into it during my teenage days.
I’d dream of what my life might be like once I was done with school. I’d imagine living in one of those apartments in that building with a view of the water. I’d have peace at a glance when I looked through the windows.
Eventually, I did move into an apartment with a balcony that overlooked a little lake (but not the one shown in this picture). I did feel peace when I looked out the windows. I lived there until my life became too large to fit in a two-bedroom apartment.