some objects (selected essays)

this object

at the time of writing this, this object, that presumably you are holding, is not yet an object. it is a collection of colors and shapes and words arranged on my computer screen. it’s boundaries have not yet been created. yet as you are reading this, its boundaries will exist differently than how i am interacting with it currently. whether your read it on your computer, or phone, or paper pages, or some format that either does not exist yet, or i do not know of, the boundaries differ. what is beyond these words, varies for each of us.

for me, presently, my computer is atop my crossed legs, atop my smallest sofa, atop a rug from jon’s mom. the computer is plugged into a yellowing extension cord, which always seems to be over-jammed. i see my checkbook, and a book of poetry i’ve written, a backpack my mother gave me. my shiny but dried hands hop from key to black key in attempt to convey my own experience. of course there is more that surrounds me. there is more that has surrounded each object mentioned in these writings. but in delving into the nooks and crannies of each, with my eyes, there will always be things unseen, and things misunderstood.

i say this is an attempt to convey my own experience. i am attempting to convey it to myself. i am attempting to touch every object with my eyes and see what they will tell me. an object can and will always have something to tell, if you listen. 

outdoor tub

there is a blue house next to mine, out of three west-facing windows in my apartment, i can see its backyard. months ago, the building sold. i spoke to the realtor who was selling it. shortly after it sold, at least four people began working on it. i heard loud banging noises frequently, and eventually a pile began to emerge. the pile pushed away a marble bench surrounded by weather-washed garden gnomes and a picnic table. as the pile grew, the old chicken coop began falling apart and the fence began melting towards the ground. there are three cats in my neighborhood that i see frequently behind my north-facing neighbor’s house. sometimes i will try and approach them. we will stare at each other, as i move slowly. when the cats finally assess me as a threat, they often disappear between the uprooted fence posts into this backyard.

every morning, it has become a habit to look out of my bathroom window and assess the pile’s contents. even though it seems no one, but a few squirrels, has ventured inside in at least three months. the pile has gone mostly unchanged for sometime now. but the other day, as i stood up from my meditation cushion, i saw a white pick-up truck hauling off a tub. i quickly went to a west-facing window to find the upside-down tub removed, and the fence’s gate slightly ajar. i was saddened to see the pile disrupted.

the tub was overturned before it was taken. its bottom-body, black and curved, was all i could see. it leaned against the heaps of trash bags and doors. not far from the toilet and open-mouthed trashcan, who always seemed to be filled with rainwater and a bright orange ring just inside its interior rim. i often wonder if anyone else with a pile-view also examines it on the regular.

on the 28th of april, a few hours after the tub was hauled off, and the rain had stopped i went downstairs and examined the pile at eye level for the first time. next to the fence gate sit my neighbors trashcans. i rarely venture over to this side of the parking lot. i realized what i long-thought was a small patch of grass, is in fact an old carpet slice. as i approached the fence, i could not distinguish if the smell came from the pile, or the old carpet under two trashcans. but it smelled wet, which most often is an unflattering scent. the pile, which from above reads as a sprawling heap, was demure, it was no more than four feet tall. the backyard i’ve longed to infiltrate seemed depressed and calling for attention.

on that same day, i searched the house online, hoping to find some pictures of it’s semi-rehabbed interior, i discovered that its for sale. $209,900.

not my backyard

it is the same backyard that housed the outdoor tub just fourteen days ago. three days ago, i was awoken at seven a.m. to sounds of muffled music and loud banging. the pile that i examined everyday was being dismantled. in the past six months, i hadn’t realized the perceived ownership i possessed over this pile. every morning, from my bathroom window, i would examine it, making sure things had gone unchanged.  of course, i never expected it to change. i expected it to remain a part of my ritual of morning looking. or perhaps, more honestly, i hadn’t even considered its possibility to change at all. but the loud banging, muffled music and voices, indicated that my ownership was not justified.

not too long ago, i was told that seeing is touching from afar. with this logic, i had touched this pile so many times, at least a hundred. of course there are many items that i see (or touch) this many times, perhaps even daily, that i do not ascribe this ownership to. i assume this ownership came out of the unfounded idea that i was the only one look-touching.

in the matter of three days, piles have recirculated at least three times over. all invoking both sadness and curiosity. on the first day, when the dumpster arrived at seven a.m. and first indented the driveway’s cement, six men removed the pile that i had been looking over. all of the trash bags thrown haphazardly into the rusted void. then the old chicken coop was dismantled with mallets. it seems the dismantlers did not have to fight the wet wood and sheet metal with much vigor before the structure caved.

two days before, for the first time, i was interested in infiltrating this area. previously, the closed gate seemed like a large enough deterrent, i did not allow myself to enter it, or more realistically, i hadn’t considered it. it could be that i was anticipating change. when i saw that the blue building was being sold, i was first filled with joy, thinking i can acquire it, then rightfully dismayed that i cannot afford such an financial undertaking, and finally, i realized that something was going to happen to this pile.

the sentimentality i feel towards this portioned off space, of previously over-grown greenery, may be due to the fact that i, myself, have never had a backyard. therefore, i imagined that at least half of having a backyard is not using it, and looking at it when i wake up. a ritual of recognition of ownership of land,  a ritual of pride. in the past months, i have become proud of this pile’s ability to go mainly unchanged. allowing snow to cover it, and wind to shake, but never move it. my looking affirmed its capabilities.

three days ago, it may have become a teenager, revolting against me, its foster mother. hurling itself into a new look and shape, showing me just how effectively it can change, and most importantly, that its existence is not confirmed by my gaze.

at least three times over it has changed, each more aggressive as the last. first it was the pile, my pile. then the dismantled chicken coop, covering my pile in the rusted dumpster. the man who brings the dumpster, and takes it away is the same man, every time. always wearing a yellow jacket with reflective piping and striping, and not quite a buzz cut, but something more akin to a patch of sparse grass, gelled erect, and perfectly shaped into a circle on his crown.

two days ago, the basement was cleared out. some how all of the old things came out first. revealing quasi-victorian furniture. a settee, a couch, a small table, many doors and therefore many knobs. then later the newer items. a stationary bike, that looked more like a bar stool from the 80s with a large bike seat and two pedals. its white base was shaped like a wave. at least two golf clubs. a knockoff instant polaroid camera. certainly there was more, but as the eight men hauled these items out of the basement, i watched their movements rather than the objects they held. it was only when the items were tossed into the dumpster that i examined them with sadness. i can say nothing upon the enjoyment of the men who are effectively showcasing the interior of this space unseen to me. but they were all smiling at three o’clock two days ago. practicing their swing with two golf clubs against a large rock and laughing. the other men gathered around the semi-dilapidated picnic table, also smiling. as jon lay in bed, i narrated the objects that were removed from the underground shelter. not expressing my sadness.

yesterday, they did not work, but i still awoke at eight a.m. anticipating their arrival.


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