I drive across one of the more interesting parts of town on my way to work. Quite a few boarded-up houses. Down one street where a business has one building on one side, and one on the other, so someone might be driving a forklift across slowly. Down one end of a cemetery. I salute the old bones and plan to be alive for the day. At one corner, a commercial-looking building had been creaking down since I started my job. And probably long before that.
One day on my way home, I stopped at the light and saw a man on the second floor of this building. He was holding some bricks in his hands. There was a weekend, and on Monday, I drove past and saw the whole second floor was gone.
The city can be like a coral reef, full of life and stories and various pieces of flotsam and jetsam are likely to be taken up, rather than left for an official person to officially put them in a bin and cart them off to an official disposal site where dreams go to die.
Further down that street, there’s a house with a front yard chock full of furniture and doo-dads. At first, I thought someone had been evicted, and I said a little prayer. But the stuff is in the yard all the time. Then I thought they might be selling some of it, and you know I’m all in on buying some weird stuff now that I live in six (6) rooms! But it’s just a yard with chairs, benches, windmills, metal snowmen, giant pinwheels and pergolas and bouncy horses and cement saints.
Honestly I don’t remember anything that’s actually in the yard, and school is out for Christmas break, so you know I’m not going to do the drive to work (!) to find out.
Frequently at school our wi-fi is out, or so slow that no one can do anything they are trying to do, like review their vocab in a game, or look up what goes in their paper. Words appear on student computers, with a constantly spinning wheel beneath them. “This makes me want to stab someone,” I said. Being equally frustrated about my lack of wi-fi access, I try to affirm my students’ frustration. “You can stab me,” a student said. “That’s the first time anyone’s said that to me in my whole career,” I said.
My advisory is mostly boys, and they express affection for each other by attempting to wrestle, hiding each others’ laptops, using our classroom mascot Dr. Frog as a football, and talking shit about each others’ racial backgrounds.
It’s really quite precious. Sometimes I have to yell at them to stop touching each other, or to do push-ups. I have one student who can do a complete flip from standing perfectly still, and he’s in ninth grade. His energy could power the island nation of Singapore.
The first Saturday of Christmas break, I was excited to not have to drag my ass out of bed in the dark for a while (no offence, kids), and I padded down to get my packages. My neighbor had brought them inside and set them on our steps. Then I heard someone yelling and (it sounded like) throwing a good old-fashioned tantrum, pounding heels and fists on the floor. One of my neighbors is a three-year-old child, and I thought, oof. Yeah.
My friends came over and we built things our of cardboard and made collages and drank coffee.
Things are falling apart. And coming together.