The sky is a sort of pinkish blue. It’s funny how the fade from one to the other occurs; once i was trying to paint a tiny inch or two of horizon onto an acrylic piece i was working on for art class and it just wound up as this sloppy red-white-and-blue mess. But the sky right now … defies the color spectrum to define it. It isn’t so much violet in the middle as much as the last strands of pink are reaching upwards to entangle themselves with the trailing fingers of the blue.
Obscuring my open sky view is the chunky concrete side of a row home. I can see the evening sky through a break in the the row of houses where one house had been years ago. The empty space is defined by the utterly flat wall of the neighboring home on which you can see the faint outlines of rooms and stairs. Construction amazes me; sure, its not especially hard to build up a single house from the ground up, but to then go back into its empty frame to install electricity and water and heat and everything of the sort amazes me. They built a new dormitory on 32nd street over the summer, and i watched it grow from the ground up until my friends moved into it the day before classes began. Even after having watching it wind its way up i still don’t really understand how it was possible… there’s a building there where once there wasn’t one.
Scale really amazes me. The same way the building of a dormitory seems staggering in comparison to a single row-home that no long exists, distance awes me. I can walk the width of the entire city in a day, and in a car i could drive nearly across the entire state of Pennsylvania. There’s a girl who came to Drexel this fall from Los Angeles, and the space between here and her home is hard for me to grasp. Sure, it’s all tucked safely within the boundaries of the United States, but coming from L.A to Philadelphia to go to school is nearly the same as coming from England. That space … i can’t measure it realistically in footsteps or city blocks or even miles. The idea of a mile loses its coherence when presented in such quantity. Is it just 2000 times farther away than the coffee shop is from me? Maybe, but does that help me to understand it any better? Distance is measured more easily in what comes inbetween: Pennsylvania Dutchland, and Chicago, and endless fields of grain, and mountainous states with less population than Philadelphia, and the San Andreas Fault. Or, maybe i’ve got my geography mixed up.
In about 24 hours i’m boarding a plane to Florida. The distance isn’t as great, but it’s still a bit stunning … i’ll be passing over friends in at least three different states that i’ve never even been to on my way there. It’s a three hour flight, yet it takes six hours to drive from my destination to DisneyWorld in Orlando. I used to have to use mnemonic device to remember if it was Disney Land and World. It’s funny what will stick out in your memory after years of relative obscurity.
I haven’t been in the air since i was in 8th grade. Since then… well, i’m obviously pretty different. I don’t know how airplanes make me feel anymore; before they were a joy and the turbulence was better than any rollercoaster i’d find in Florida. Now rollercoasters make me a little bit nervous, and i’ve known the detached fascination and horror of watching the news report the crash of a plane – knowing all along that i just lost the possibility of having hundreds of conversations i had been planning on having after the summer was over.
All of that is just the distance between me then and me now. It’s hard to really comprehend the difference six years can make in a person, whether it be in days or weeks or seconds. But, you can measure it by the landmarks left on my life. At least that way it isn’t such a daunting task. To be sure, it’s been a long while since i last took to the sky, but i’m still the same person – and i’ll be boarding a plane that’ll tear into that not-so-violet evening sky in 24 hours.
[…] No one ever took me up on the offer of the view, but it might have been because i never really offered it seriously; always packaging it with the joke that it was, in fact, my surefire means of seduction — which tends to diffuse the seductive power of the plan. Right now it is raining. My neighbor has his blinds closed, so all there is to see is the oblong diamond overlay of his mottled brown siding, and the strange rust-orange of the next house with cabinets backed up against its windows so that all i can see is what’s on top of them. Stricly speaking, it’s the most restricted view i’ve ever had … even last year’s view of rowhomes sometimes came through with something a little more noteworthy. So, my window isn’t much to be proud of . . . except, between here and those houses on the other side, there is a tiny backyard world that is separate from the people in the houses that surround it. Staring out into it is like watching the interior of a snow-globe, only it is the outside and we are the in, and we are staring out at it through the protection of my tiny back window. […]
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