Change is difficult, but necessary, it’s interesting, and confusing. It’s neither good nor bad, it is a requirement for growth. Modification makes room for new things, events and people in my life. It’s something I can count on happening: alteration, for nothing ever stays the same. But what about the residual, what happens to what’s left after things change?
The sound is what I experienced first, a loud rumbling, next I felt myself vibrating as if the earth was moving beneath me. When I stepped outside I saw what was happening. Machines at work, and the biggest one of all parked a the front door with it’s mouth opened wide. I felt like I was about to be eaten, but it wasn’t there for me, only my empathy.
The abandoned house a few doors down was being demolished. It was a grand- beauty, circa 1920, once removed straight from the French Quarter. The exterior was stark putty, with two side-by-side, floor to ceiling porches. Once the construction started, and the outer- drab layer was removed; blossoming like a flamingo, peachy-keen stucco emerged. It was brilliant, and becoming as a birthday cake sitting on the edge of a table, my eyes were drawn to it; the vastness surrounding the color meant nothing.
An enormous piece of equipment-with a toy like claw-lifted the top hat portion of the chimney with the ease of tearing down a Lego town. It scratched the front of the house with steel nails, removing pieces of time, displaying the retro-pastel, before knocking the structure into particles of dust, and rubble.
I sat watching with a bout of unease. The driver of the Caterpillar Excavator sat high in the drivers seat moving the mouth of the vessel, while the sounds of Nine Inch Nails blared from the cab. “You make this all go away. You make this all go away. I’m down to just one thing, and I’m starting to scare myself.” I couldn’t help but to think of the irony in deconstructing. Did the operator purposefully play that song?
A pleased woman sitting nearby on the curb, and a few hyped kids standing around her, I asked, “Is this going to be your new house?” She smiled proudly, “Yes, once the demolition is complete.” I couldn’t help myself, the sadness washed over me like the water-hose to crumbling asbestos; I spoke without looking at her.
“It’s sad to watch something so beautiful being torn down.” She was offended, and rightly so, I guess.
She rearranged herself on the concrete and said with stiffness, “It was condemned.”
I wasn’t expecting a particular answer, nor did I think the house should’ve remained in decay, and unoccupied. However something inside me needed to talk about it, almost like a family member at a eulogy, something needed to be said.
I tried to back up from her interpretation of my statement, I said, “Oh yes, I know. It’s been sitting there rotting for a while now.”
I continued, trying to lighten the conversation, “I asked my landlord to set traps just in case the unearthing of the basement renderers a few rats homeless. I don’t want them taking up refuge at my place.”
She frowned, touched her oversized sunglasses and said, “The city had to approve our project. They required us to treat for rodent and asbestos problems prior to approving the construction. “
I was barely listening, “Really? Interesting.” I couldn’t take my eyes off the exposed doorframes without walls, and the gaping hole to hell, tearing through the side of the house like the set of a horror film. I wanted to go inside but it was too late.
There’s just something eerie, unexplainable about the wood remains and concrete fragments of a torn down house. It stood empty and broken, a staircase divided and leading nowhere like a plank to tragedy.
Cars slowed as they approached, gawking at the house raped of a home.
Where were the lives that occupied the empty rooms?
How many people had come and gone? Were each of the four corners touched by human lovemaking, quarrelling and strife? How many tears were shed on the oak floors, and how much echoing of laughter passed thru the plaster walls?
My discomfort with the new neighbor lady was avoided, like with any funeral, someone appeared with food. A pollen coated-white van- in a yellow haze, overflowing with sticky, sweaty-headed children, came to a stop. A woman shouted out the window to the flock around the house, “I have a bag of cheeseburgers,” as she presented an overgrown Mc Donald’s bag.
The woman stood to greet her friend, I happened to know the Cheeseburgular as well. We said our, “ Hello’s,” and then realized we had a friend in common.
The new neighbor said, “Oh yes, I’ve heard about you from time to time.” (I thought to myself, “I hope you’ve heard not to take me seriously, I’m outspoken and rude.”
I walked away from the conversation feeling odd and misunderstood, when probably she didn’t even give me a second thought. But I re-think everything, and see things in layers, whether fictional or not.
I’ve grown into the person I am now. I haven’t always been this way; my experiences trained me. I added levels and depth, crust and grime as time went by.
There’s a road nearby where I lived as a kid whose scenery has changed with me. Where there once stood my old daycare center-named after a horrible tale about two children being lured into danger by candy- is now an adult novelty store, selling sex tapes, dildos, silicone female-parts, and fetish delights. It, like the daycare, pacifies, and preoccupies. Hansel and Gretel doesn’t even describe grim.
When I was four years old, my mom and I lived in the disco-era apartments across the street from the adult-candy shop. The roofs hug the buildings like square shaped- helmets. I wonder if the helmet element of design was inspired by the hit TV show of the 1970’s, “Chips?” Everything from that era seemed to be brown, and beige like the cop uniforms too.
The apartments look the same from the outside (architecturally speaking;) however they’re different. My mother’s not there anymore. I’m not there, and my sheets are dry.
To BE Continued