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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Monday, July 30, 2007

Abandoned Spaces

It’s not as though I had stopped writing. I’ve filled more than a few journals since my last entry here. I’ve written letters and emails, some that I’ve sent, some that I had no intention of sending from the start. Still, when I opened this page of my blog this morning, when I finally returned to this abandoned space, I found I had been missing it in ways that hadn’t even occurred to me.

I’ve moved since April, into an apartment almost painstakingly perfect for me. Within it’s abandoned rooms I arranged myself, not necessarily with material things, but with the roles I envisioned myself playing. In this kitchen I would learn to cook, on this patio I would become the perfect hostess, in this living room I would soak up every book I could, in this office I would be a writer. And so a new me was created here, not from a slate fresh and clean, not from a past life, abandoned, but from every thought I had already come across in my life, from the foundation I had already built.

At school, our enrollment for the summer has been low and so I’ve had the pleasant opportunity to take the occasional day off here and there. Today is one of those days. I awoke, went for a walk, came home to make coffee and have since been sitting on my new red couch reading The Lovely Bones all morning. A day full of nothing, yes, but also somehow one filled with everything. Time can be so funny that way.

I hadn’t taken all but ten steps from my building this morning when I came across a roll of cash in the street. I imagine it had fallen from an early morning runner’s pocket, and that they would have no idea to come back to look for it there. Had it been more than nine dollars, I would have left it there just incase they did know, but instead I picked it up.

I walked and walked down my typically busy street, abandoned now in the early light of dawn, and turned off onto a small road I’d never taken before. A few feet down, I was greeted by a garden next to the sidewalk that seemingly belonged to no one in particular. Yet I knew someone must tend to it, must love it so whole-heartedly that they come there often to carefully and meticulously nurture each delicate petal. I bent down and buried my face into a large pink flower whose name I did not know. I smiled, reached into my pocket and pulled out a dollar. I can't explain why. I placed it at the bottom of its stem.

A while later, I passed an elderly gentleman walking his even more elderly looking dog. Slowly they paced down the path together, two old souls who had seen it all. “Good morning!” He bellowed, more loudly than I had expected. I enthusiastically returned his greeting, unused to walking around a neighborhood and being spoken to like an old friend. We stopped and chatted for a while about the beautiful weather. When he left me, I pulled another dollar from my pocket and placed it in the crack between the squares of sidewalk.

I continued along, and then, there it was. The house. The house I would paint if someone asked me where I’d want to spend the rest of my days. The house I would paint even if someone didn’t ask. The house I would paint if I were a painter. I lifted another dollar and placed it under the first stone of the pathway leading to the front door.

I placed the other six in a similar fashion, one beside the anthill with its small workers marching up and down it. One in the hollowed space inside the giant oak tree just outside the entrance to the park where my little students spend so many happy afternoons. One near the ten year old riding his bike who had greeted me with a sorrowful “hiiii,” as though being ten years old was in and of itself the most excruciating pain in the world. One for the birds nest fallen from its tree, and one for the single roller skate, inexplicably left beside the road.

And then one more, hidden just for me, stuck away in some abandoned little nook in the world -- a secret I prize as a child would, a secret I keep within me, in a place I had assumed was abandoned long ago. But I have found it. I have filled it with these tiny treasures.