Category Archives: Fayetteville

13th of Gratitude

“Today is like the surprise fries in the bottom of the bag. Find your fries.” – X

It’s only four but I’ve already been able to experience several sights, sounds, and surprises. Beauty is where you find it. I woke up to it.

I stopped to chalk up the sidewalk. I watched the moon above and listened to the bullfrogs croak and sing in their singular deep voices.

I also finally remembered to stop and take a picture of the tank car on the corner of Gregg Avenue.

At my doorstep was a pretty coffee cup, a clear one, filled with fresh flowers. I suspect it was from a neighbor repaying a surprise I left them yesterday afternoon. I can’t be sure which neighbor, as I surprised more than one.

I went out to the fence and added several tiles and painted cross boards, all filled with color. It amused me to imagine someone seeing me with tools and spray paint, possibly wondering if suspicious activity were afoot. Yes, art, if that is suspicious at that hour. I’ve been busy doing other projects, but I’ve taken a little time each day to add something to the fence. In time, perhaps I’ll have the entire expanse filled with color and shapes. I’m not sure what it will look like when I’m finished. If I’m ever finished.

It’s Friday the 13th and so far, no ill omens to deter my day.

Love, X
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Creek Reveries

I’m off work. Because the water has subsided, I wanted to soak my feet in the cold water and walk down the middle of the creek. I can’t describe how refreshing it is, or to hear the water cascade. I was reminded to watch the tangled branches on the creek side a little more closely. I walked right up on this little fellow with his head poking out of the water. There are a few snakes sunning on one side of the creek. If they’re floating down the creek, I just remain motionless and watch them pass. It is beautiful in here! The access walk is still flooded, so most people will not get their feet wet, much less like I do and take my shoes and socks off. I have the entire creek to myself except for the snakes and turtles – and the unseen birds singing in the trees and brush. It’s hard to worry about life with all this around me. I will walk back up the creek, moving my feet along the bottom to find purchase, in a few minutes. I hate to break the reverie of this moment!

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The Day

He emerged from the old car; he was the embodiment of a life of struggle. A cigarette dangled loosely from his lips and he struggled to stand upright as he exited. He leaned resignedly against the passenger side of the car. His hair was pulled into a ponytail, protruding from the back of his hat. It seemed as though doing so cost him all his energy. I wished for a moment that I could gift him some of my energy. I have more than my fair share. I recently learned that he has struggled most of his life with addiction. It shows in his posture and on the crevices of his face.

His wife greeted me warmly. She exchanged quips and humor with me, mostly about her son-in-law needing to reward his wife with a clean apartment while she worked. We both laughed, knowing we were asking for the impossible. I forget that I made her several solar lanterns because she told my neighbor that she loved them. I like to think of things I’ve made adding color and light to a place I’ll never see.

In the background, the patter of the pump exhaling water from the foundation next door, one delayed by constant rains. It’s also the source of a few dozen of my painted rocks. I counted it a blessing that the construction has been delayed, even as I heard the man cursing the battle against the water. The birds chirped wildly and beautifully. Squirrels scampered everywhere, flinging mayhem and birdseed onto every available surface. They are both a curse and an additional dose of nature and beauty. I feel like those squirrels quite often, my energy seemingly boundless.

I have multiple projects going. I’m flittering between them. All are odd and colorful. I drove back to the apartment this morning with a dead tree stuffed into my tiny car. It pressed against me and the gear shift so tightly that I thought I might have to reach home driving purely in reverse. I’m going to breathe life into that dead tree in the way that I can. I chose it from the haphazard pile on which I found the baby shower box last week. When I retrieved the small tree and managed to insert it into the hatch of my car, I leaned against the car and watched and listened to the world awaken around me.

It’s Mothers Day, a day that fills some people with nostalgia and others with remorse or regret. Of things lost, opportunities squandered. All of those missed chances can’t be recalled. We can, however, dedicate ourselves to remembering the good things that every person gifted us. Even if they also left us with memories that are better suited to be locked away in private boxes. Life is not sepia-toned. It’s vibrant and always experienced in the ‘now’ of our consciousness. Memory can be both catalyst and chaos.

I don’t know why the picture rendered so purple, but I love that it did. I’m a terrible photographer but also in love with pictures. Happy accidents are amazing, even if the result of ignorance.

Love, X
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What a beautiful morning it has been already! I got to witness the sky grow brighter and listen to the unseen avalanche of birds as they sang. And I walked back up towards my little apartment. Filled with color and light. I think I outmatched it this morning.

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After

It’s difficult to believe that the flood water was several feet over my head at this point yesterday.

It’s even more difficult to remember what my life looked like a year ago.

I used the wrong night time effect on this picture. It’s a terrible picture but I love it… There’s so much moisture in the air that it renders me like an apparition. It’s 4:00 a.m. and dark. But the sunrise and the illumination it brings with it will soon come.

Love, X
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The Box

Near the multiple piles of brush on the perimeter of the street, I spied a white box. It was out of place, bright, and sitting as if placed there. I picked it up, expecting it to be heavy. It was light. I opened the clasp on the front and lifted the lid. Inside were a couple of dozen brightly colored notes, each written by attendees of what looked to be a baby shower. Though it might not sound sublime, it lit me up with the imaginings of a foreign life and a curiosity to know how the box found its way to be haphazardly placed where I discovered it.

I read the notes eagerly, my thoughts tied to an event and a person who I’d never meet. One was a rudimentary drawing of a swaddled baby, one probably drawn by a young child.

It was a lemon moment, one that I can’t quite describe.

I brought the little box home with me and glued the slight imperfection along the bottom. I don’t know what to do with it, other than to wonder about the life it represents and the child it celebrated.

I hope the mother is happy with her new child.

I hope.

And that makes me happy.

I’m sitting here with the apartment door open, listening to the rain and the cacophony of birds in the surrounding trees. My cat is wandering the landing, probably attempting to trespass further than he is supposed to. It’s a beautiful morning and the sun hasn’t greeted me yet.

Somewhere, the mom and the new baby associated with the box I found live their lives.

Fayetteville. There are surprises everywhere if you know where to look and how to appreciate them.

Love, X
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Traversing The Road

Starting with a laugh… as I walked West Miller Street close to my apartment, I watched a greyish blue Chevy Traverse round the deceptively sharp curve to approach me. It was speeding of course. I walked along the right-hand side of the street on the grass. As the vehicle approached, I observed the older woman driving and notice the approaching speed bump. It’s not high profile. Had she simply driven over it, there would have been no laugh. Instead, she braked hard to avoid going over it at 35+ mph. The younger woman in the passenger seat didn’t appear to be wearing a seatbelt. She was turned sideways in the seat, drinking a presumptive soda through her straw. As the driver braked, the passenger went forward unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite see it when it happened, but she squeezed her styrofoam cup as she was jerked forward. The passenger bounced off the dashboard. Weirdly, both the driver and the passenger looked at me simultaneously as I walked and laughed. The passenger started pantomiming her displeasure toward the driver. She wildly pointed down and across her lap. I assume she was baptized in soda. I shrugged my shoulders when the driver looked at me again, having come to a full stop a couple of feet past the speed bump. When I looked back at the vehicle a few seconds later to note the make and model, I laughed again at the fact that it was wrongly named the “Traverse.” It certainly didn’t this afternoon.

Now I want to add another speed bump on top of the authorized one and watch as speeders coming from Woodland school hit it without warning. I could give it the name “Speed Wall” instead of a speed bump.

When I exited the convenience store a few minutes later, I drank my diet soda and crushed ice with enthusiasm. A nun dressed in all white entered as I held the door open for her. One of the regulars who is also quite the scam storyteller asked me if I wanted to buy some weed. With a very serious face, I said, “Yes. I need five pounds of it if you have it.” The look on his face was priceless. “Five pounds? How long will that last you?” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, I’d say about nine or ten days. Can you hook me up?” He shook his head, still not realizing I was joking. “No, I can’t get anywhere near that amount!” I told him I was very disappointed in his inventory problem. I walked away, shaking my head, pretending to be concerned. I didn’t look back. I didn’t dare. There is no way I would have been able to avoid laughing.

At the intersection with Onyx Coffee, I watched as drivers carelessly drove across the crosswalk and ignored the road markings. Because I was feeling clever, I crouched down and pointed my fingers on the concrete, pretending I was a sprinter about to take off across the crosswalk. My eyes were focused on the red indicator across the street. As I did so, a white Chevy pickup pulled all the way across the crosswalk in front of me and stopped. His intention was to make a right turn, even if he had to block pedestrians to do so. I walked in front of his vehicle. Instead of pointing at the crosswalk or the sign across the street, I instead pointed at the grill of his truck. “Oh my god!” I said. And kept pointing. “You need to see this,” I told him, continuing to point. He put his truck in park and exited his truck to see what I was gesticulating toward on the front of his truck. As he did, I walked across the street and kept going. I didn’t look back that time, either. I wondered if he might get angry and return to curse at me. He’d have to make at least TWO more turns to head back in my direction, though.

When I walked two streets past my apartment, I watched a man climb inside the dumpster on the corner. He was having trouble, so I told him to use the truck fork holes as steps. He must have been a newbie to the dumpster scene. I didn’t talk to him long, but it turns out he has a decent job in the evening. He’s been scavenging and reworking furniture and different items. His truck was parked several feet away in the apartment parking lot. He also told me something interesting: that he often found construction workers’ beer in there. They often use it to hide their alcohol while they’re on the job site. He told me that last week he found a bicycle that required only a few dollars of parts – and that he sold it for $100. I wished him luck and told him that he should take a look in the dumpster at my apartment on Sunday afternoon. He thanked me.

I didn’t see another Traverse as I crossed the speed bump again.

X
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A Wind No Longer Chilly

I walked fast, accumulating steps between the bouts of expected rain. With the wind, it was a little bit chilly. My feet felt like they weren’t even touching the ground. But I found myself wishing there was no breeze. I rounded the corner of a parking lot. Ahead of me a young couple were clearing their vehicle of their belongings. The two formidable men manning the tow truck were waiting impatiently for them to finish. The couple’s vehicle was being repossessed. The young man reminded me of a singer whose name I could not recall. His face revealed nothing. His female companion however, had anguish etched across her features. I can’t describe exactly how terrible I felt for them both. It is their only vehicle. It was, I should say. I don’t know what led to this. Only that I wish that it had not happened. When I made eye contact with the woman as I passed, I nodded and frowned.”I’m so sorry,” I said, because I was. Even though my comment was not helpful, I hoped it lessened her stress and a little bit of her embarrassment as she continued to pile things out of the vehicle. I don’t have a neat bow to tie this anecdote with. The chilly breeze no longer bothered me. How fortunate I am. I have a vehicle and I was out walking for pleasure. Around me, people with problems both big and small, struggle and live their lives.

X
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Warm

My day is closing the way it began. Almost 16 hours later, I’m walking and watching the beautiful sunset illuminate the brightly colored houses and the hidden lives they contain. It’s absolutely beautiful and transformative. My head floods with music and if I glance away and look back, the light has already morphed and changed. There are a lot of moments in life exactly like that. You enter the room of memory and although everything is familiar, nothing is the same. Impermanence is the only sure thing. Even the sun filled with hydrogen will one day exhaust itself. But for now, 30,000 steps long behind me, I feel like I have an infinite supply of appreciation.
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Monday’s Reflections

Summer gallops toward us. My metal front door already reached 156 F this afternoon. Last summer, it reached over 180. It catches the sun directly. It’s great for my solar lanterns and lights but makes me wonder when the wall might ignite in a fiery burst. The previous door was wooden until I moved in. The occupant had made the front door unusable too. That amuses me. What level of hooliganism must one exercise to render a door unusable? My childhood provides fodder for the ‘how.’

I bought Subway to eat. I still had a slew of coupons to use. The problem? I didn’t know they expired on my birthday until I ordered. To counterbalance my self-amusement and chagrin, I tipped the two workers in cash, surprising them. Jessica gave me a bottle of thai chili sauce and I drowned half of my sandwich in it, letting it run down across my hands and face as I stood outside in the warmth of the full sun, the sandwich precariously perched on the railing. Güino of course kept me company out there while I ate. He then tricked me and darted past me to the neighbors, where he proceeded to peer into the low window and meow at the cat occupants of the apartment. As I prodded him back toward my apartment with my foot, he had a lot to say to me in protest.

Earlier, hundreds of birds accumulated in the brush and unmaintained trees behind the apartment simplex. Their chirping roar was loud and beautiful. It gave me the idea to put a 15′ feeder pole outside my bedroom window. Lord knows the screen will never be fixed so moving it aside to fill the feeder won’t be a problem. Of course, I will paint it a garish vivid color, one befitting a person dedicated to swathing everything in polychrome.

An uncle of mine died this week. Amusingly, we called him Poor Bob. He was a plain-spoken, opinionated, and humorous man. He needed all those qualities to be married to my Aunt Marylou. It’s okay that I pick on her. She’s heard it all at least two times in her long lifetime. She’s the origin of my quip, “Every family needs an Aunt Marylou to get things done.” She’s been the de facto matriarch of the family since grandma Nellie died.

I’m sitting at my computer, facing the sun as it penetrates the poorly-closed blinds of the window. Shadows play across the bottom. The cat sitting on the extra-wide sill I installed below them provides a little motion as he moves and arcs his back against them. I left the back window open for him when I left early this morning. He’s had a full day of sun and warmth.

I filled the hummingbird feeder because I’m an optimist.

I’m going to make a cup of bitter coffee and stand on the landing as I drink it. Sunset isn’t until 7:35. If I do it right, that hour will seem languid and filled with countless thoughts. Some hours are much longer than others, just as some embraces are more fiery and soulful.

It’s not that this location is beautiful, but sometimes the light shimmers on surfaces and provides the perfect backdrop for contemplating.

I’ll look at pictures later, searching for those who’ve stepped away. It’s the least I can do, to remember. Even to experience a small moment. Most of our lives are these moments.

Love, X
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Good Morning Mofos

A special message for today, written on a 2′ x 3′ container lid.

Yes, the word “mofo” still amuses me.

As I amused myself with this sign, I listened to my downstairs neighbor rage and scream for several minutes. I went out to the landing and stairs and recorded a little bit of it. I hope he is not screaming at his very young daughter again. That kind of behavior at 4 a.m. signals that he is out of control. It wouldn’t be better to listen to it at 2 p.m. but it somehow is much worse at this hour. He’s the one some of us call “Shirtless Guy,” because he goes shirtless when all evidence clearly indicates that he should not, at least from the standpoint of “things people want to see.”

I hear the train whistle in the distance. It will soon approach, roaring past. As loud as it is, it’s one of the things that is endearing about living in this area. As for the volume, it’s no louder than my mom, whose voice cut could through the apocalypse. Trains connect me to my childhood past, parts that are worth remembering. My grandpa used to tell me stories about jumping trains, even as my grandma Nellie would holler at him: “Woolie, stop telling him those stories!” I wish grandpa had lived a few more years to tell me stories I could remember. As for the train tracks, if you touch the rails, you’re connected to 140,000+ miles of them across the United States. I love that idea.

The train horn grows loud.

The day grows near.

The neighbor is silent.

Good morning, mofos. I wish you could experience how it makes me feel to recall sitting on the wooden porch swing next to grandpa.

Love, X
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