Archive | August, 2018

beauty in the contrast

5 Aug

I am at a loss about how to capture the beauty in the ugly or the raw.  I moved to a new neighborhood last year.  It is on a boundary.  If I go right out of my neighborhood, I cross under the highway within a block (The sound of traffic is quite noticeable from my yard).  A block beyond the highway is an area of the city where most are struggling with day to day life, many without cars.  The foot traffic and bike traffic on this side are a reflection necessity.  If I turn to the left, I pass by ranches from the 1930’s to the 1950’s that are being renovated and flipped, followed quickly by a reviving recreational center, followed by a little village with trendy new bars, restaurants and breweries.  The foot traffic and bike traffic on this side of the area are a reflection of recreation.   The trending of revitalization and commerce meets starkly at a highway overpass line a  climate of poverty.

The whole area is a grocery desert, which I had read about before actually moving here.  There are two grocery stores within 3 miles of my house, but they are not the sort of store I am used to.  The closest store has been robbed so many times that they have a security guard who sits by the carts at the front of the store.  The selection is improving due to the revitalization not so far away.  They have begun to have a few organic selections in the produce section.  They have a surprisingly good selection of chocolate bars, suddenly, out of the blue. The prices are several dollars cheaper at times than the nicer sides of town.  I shop here.  I enjoy trying to find things that I want to buy amid the slim pickings.  I hope to skew the selection toward what I want, all the while, in the back of my mind, I wonder if my shopping here will make the prices increase for those who walk to this store from shanty-like apartments and trailers.  Last night a man checking out ahead of me talked to the worried cashier with a backwards, unlit cigarette hanging from the side of his mouth.  Many at the checkout are buying only large alcoholic beverages which they keep in their paper bags to drink as they walk away.

I move in many worlds, and I love how my life exposes me to contrast  daily.  I have never rested easy in the priveleged isolation I’ve known so often.  Is there something in me that seeks the downtrodden side of life?    I want to pin it, the beauty I see in this meeting of worlds.

From the parking lot of the Food Lion I can see the paper mill putting billowing clouds of smoke into the sky.  Between the Food Lion and the paper mill exists a marsh.  The marsh is full of tall wetland grass,  yellow, chartreuse, and deep green wheaty spokes  broken up only  with a few leafless dying tree sculptures here and there.  On these leafless trees sit a variety of snowy white sea birds, egrets and herons, decorating the long stretch of grass and water with their elegant bodies.  They look like large white flowers blossoming out of stark sticks. There is trash strewn in places, but the birds pull my eyes up to their pure forms;  they gather here every morning in front of the paper mill  where I sit to wait for the light to change as I drive to work, sublime elegance displayed in the nature and grey, polluted spewing of the industry, rising affluence and surviving poverty, the spectrum looping around to complete a circle.

I am a center point, observing where a range meets.  Salinated and desalinated, clean and dirty, stable and unstable.  Some mornings the wind shifts and the paper mill smell fills the air in the nicer section and seeps into our houses; the stainless appliances and granite counters cannot counter the smell; we all pray for a shift in the wind. But who would receive it then?

If I were a photographer, I could capture and pin it, this contrast.  I could snap the shot my eyes take in, but my photo attempts fail, so I turn to words, which may not be working either, but here is my stab at capturing this unnamable something my soul is attracted to instantly, the contrast available.  I stand in line at Food Lion behind the swaying man, each of us holding the center of love that we share.  I am not anyone.  I am often surprised I have a name.  I sometimes forget that I am more than just a pair of eyes, observing the beauty without definition in all that I can see.

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