The Neighborhood

The world can be an interesting place. One morning you’re walking through the rain to the bus stop, slumping into the seat in a total daze, arriving at 14th and Hennepin before you know it. Another day you’re taking the 7F past the Minnehaha Market for the first time, wondering at the passing houses in this quiet section of St. Paul you’ve never seen before. You notice the red and white sign alerting people of the close circuit television surveillance and you wonder about the small house with the front porch and what it’d be like to move in there.

All in a sudden daze, a passing moment, a flicker on the television screen.

There’s an old brick building I pass everyday. It’s less than a block from my apartment, across the street from the Valvoline place that charges too much for an oil change. On the corner there’s an Oriental Supermarket. The signs in the window are in another language. The brick building is three stories high. Apartment windows can be seen above the Oriental market, the kind of windows old, half-crazed geniuses stare out of. The kind of windows that make for the kind of apartment you wish you could find, but never will.

A few weeks ago something strange happened to that red brick building. One day I walked by and everything was perfectly normal. The next day I walked by and bits of brick and concrete dust littered the sidewalk. There were a few intact bricks, and lots of red chips and shards. I looked skyward to find that part of the edifice had let go and fallen to the sidewalk. Part of the ornate pattern–as ornate as that building got–had given way and crumbled to the street below.

The next day yellow caution tape circled the sidewalk in front of the building, with wooden blockades as rickety as the building itself barring the sidewalk. You had to step into the street to walk around the diversion.

omewhere at some point someone walked those same steps I do every morning, but they had the unfortunate circumstance of being stuck in a particularly negative moment they couldn’t get out of. Perhaps they didn’t find it quite so negative. Perhaps they found it enlightening that the facade of a building could fall down upon them. Perhaps they were merely nobody and only the alley cat watched the bricks fall and shatter across the concrete sidewalk. Perhaps the bricks never did fall.

Every day I walk by, look up to the exposed concrete of the building, which stands out like nakedness, and I wonder what it would have been like to see that moment. Then as I walk by my eyes fall to the pavement, to that one bit of brick lying next to the rickety wooden blockade. That one bit of brick just the right size to sit on my desk and make me think of all the wrong moments and all the right moments and being stuck in between every one. One of these days I’ll pick that broken edifice up off the ground and drop it in my pocket for safe keeping. One of these moments I’ll scoop the red brick up and wonder which moment I’m stuck in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.