Monday, March 26, 2012

The Fields We Tend

Beyond the thrice-cracked concrete patio a torrent of cantaloupe green brush hangs high in all directions. Petals of dead shrub dash through the sea of tall grass like highlights bleached into a tween girl’s first unsupervised cut and style. Beyond a landscape challenge of whether a mower can handle grass so high without combusting into shards of uselessness sits a declaration of unease. No, we’re not green thumbs. We’re not even really here.

Backlit keys absorb daylong ten finger assaults with ease. Systems are built to manage systems, which are managed by people, chiefly to make sure the systems that manage the systems will, you know, function like systems. The business, while built around passion, is rooted in a foundation of preparedness, earthquake, recession, power outage or food fight we are ready for anything because we prepare for it all. Yes, this is working. We’re always here.

Sacrifice, the act of giving up something good for something better, is all too often characterized as a win/win when in fact it’s win/lose. You win whatever you tend, and what goes unattended you lose, why would you ever be surprised by what happens upon neglect?

Are you surprised at the child that acts up in class when at home there is no one to tell her not to?

Are you surprised at the single mom that can’t make girls night out because she’s working her second, third or even forth job serving food to other people’s tables so she can put some on her own?

Are you surprised at the once-comrade that doesn’t remember your birthday since you last spoke to her many years ago?

Are you surprised at the bitter homeless man for hating you for your job, clothes, and home?

Are you surprised by the musician that laughs at your weekend guitar playing while their callused fingers correct your chord progressions?

Are you surprised by the marathoner that lacks sympathy for the fast food junkie that feels irritated by the slightest pain upon an inaugural treadmill expedition?

Fields need tending to prosper, to turn into lively beauties, and yet even with our eyes fixed so firmly on them, our hearts pumping life into encouragement in the form of good intentions, nothing changes. Not yet anyways.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Around Here

On an old wood table sits a new camera bag. Thick canvas protrudes proudly in all directions, as the girth of twin supple golden suede handles spout to an arch as perfect as St. Louis. I’ve never quite seen a camera bag like this one, and frankly as beautiful as it is, I’m bothered by the newness of it.

My house is nothing more than a pile of bricks atop a modest hill. The home sits nestled between two houses just like it. The vehicle in the driveway that so eloquently dons masking tape over a knocked out taillight was built when Clinton ran the country. The neighborhood, filled with plumbers and tow truck operators, welcomes home residents in uniforms that offer first names via a sewn patch on the chest. I haven’t spent much time in Detroit, but I imagine my town is the smaller southern counterpart.

In this part of town, my side of town, luxury is defined by having job, and getting your hands dirty. There aren’t a lot of passport-touting yuppies around here. No slick talking hedge fund managers, or eager beaver executive know-it-alls to tell us all what to want and how to act. Gentrification may never come this direction, and by all accounts that would be just fine by the sincere folks that call these single story ranches home.

A boy a few doors down spends hours practicing his jump shot on a decrepit plastic basketball hoop slanted just enough in one direction to render it useless in actually perfecting any type of shot one would use in real game, yet he shoots undeterred. He plows away in the frigid cold of winter, as frigid as South Carolina gets anyways, and the scorching, are-you-kidding-me heat of summer. I often wonder where his iPad went? If he has the chance to sip on the cocktail of apps and air conditioning his peers across the track so often quench their techno thirst on? Sometimes as I pass in my car, or on foot, I watch him long enough for him to notice, then I nod approval his way, I can relate to that gut-wrenching feeling of wanting to be outside of the home, anywhere, but inside. He shoots, he scores.

Real people live here, they are too busy practicing the art of getting by to pretend to be someone they are not.

With no money you are no different here. You are accepted here without financial audit. You don’t need to say where you went on vacation, or what you drive, or where you work, you can just exist, and frankly that’s good enough. And so it comes as no surprise the property values in this neighborhood hardly ever go up.