Return Of The Ugly Fence
My pet dinosaur Redactyl sits looking out the suddenly barren fence line in the background. I know he will have a lot to say about it. He’s stuck staring at a lifeless, dilapidated scene now. Color once brightened his perspective.
I’m conflicted. I spent countless hours meticulously assembling the decorations for the longest fence where I live.
Nothing is permanent.
It was great fun, finding pieces and creative ways to use things that aren’t intended to be used in the way I chose.
It was also a lot of work. Work that put me in the zone and challenged me to keep going.
I heard nothing but delight from everyone about how much color and character it added to this ugly apartment complex and the area. Friends drove by or over to see it. Several people posted pictures of it on social media without me realizing it until much later. That made me smile.
This is precisely the kind of place that needs and needed color and something wild and different. Otherwise, it’s just a plot of land and a container that many find temporary.
Two days ago, in a blaze of adrenaline, I began to take the tiles, metal pieces, and assorted decorations off. It led to my shorts’ pockets being so heavy they were about to fall off, which led to the dreaded keys-in-the-dumpster incident. Hundreds of screws, washers, tiles, and assorted pieces. I wasn’t mad, but the disappointment grew as I looked at the fence. But seeing it this morning in the dim light made it dreadfully plain and lifeless. Nothing is permanent; I kept telling myself. But in the back of my mind, I wondered about minds so small they have to complain. 1% of me negatively reacted, given how much work and cleanup I’ve put into this place. We’re supposed to do that sort of thing without expectations.
On the other hand, I put in a proportional amount of work apart from the countless hours I spent brightening up the place. Most of my neighbors don’t do their share to keep the place better than they found it. It’s disappointing that someone took the time to complain they weren’t happy. Some people aren’t happy no matter what – and unfortunately, some take delight in ruining other people’s happiness. The problem with such people is that they will never be satisfied; they thrive on such effort. They are dramavores.
I will redirect my urge to color and brighten to something else in small places and wherever I roam. I’ve left dozens of decorations and pieces all over.
When people ask, “Oh my god, X, what happened to your art project on the fence?” I’m going to shrug and attribute it to the impermanence of everything. For a few weeks, it was something to behold. The entropy resulting from complaining took its price.
Now, as I look out onto the fence I repaired out of my pocket and with my labor, I see an ugly board fence, looking out onto a dismal parking lot. I think it traps us rather than keeps others out, especially now that an expensive home is being built on the small lot between us and the trail cut-through from Gregg.
In my head, though? I can’t look at the fence without imagining it filled with color.
As places like that should be.
I’ll put up a single tile in the middle of the fence at some point, one which will read:
“…Site of recent memory’s largest personal art project. It’s gone, but color remains if you seek it. X”