Rendered Fat Content


Vincent van Gogh: Adeline Ravoux (1890)

"I regain my attention …"

Other than passing through on the freeway, I'd never even thought to stop to see what might welcome me here, so I arrived without preconceptions, as a genuine stranger. This city could have been anywhere. I had no emotional attachments here. The waterfront attracted my eye, but I could not recall, if, indeed, I ever knew, the name of the bay. The city looked worn but worked over, as if considerable effort had been applied to prevent it from simply becoming derelict, with mixed results. This was clearly nobody's Disneyland. Its rough edges seemed prominent. I had never wondered about the history here, how it might have managed to turn out this way. I would be Strangering here within this mystery.

I much prefer to walk when Strangering, for driving moves me too quickly for me to see very much.
Likewise, public transportation, however accessible, seems too unpredictable to be of much use. I use my feet. I walk the streets in ways I do not walk the familiar streets back home. My pace slower, my mind wanders more than do my feet. I might be searching for something, a 'know it when I see it' something I could never describe beforehand. I seem to be pattern matching, recognizing similarities with other places. I am constructing an impression of just where I might be. I seem to be making up stories.

My feet tend to lead me out of the more gentrified center toward the first outward perimeter, that circle of every city whose development followed downtown's construction. The neighborhood which often, as in this case, centers around a Martin Luther King Boulevard, a street which stands as testament to an embarrassingly common history in these places. These city centers were not built for people of color. Minority and working classes inhabited cities apart from the formal story. I find these neighborhoods more interesting.

I observe the houses, comparing each to The Villa back home and find most wanting. I feel like a visitor from another planet. I appreciate how impossible it must have been for anyone to make a living out of what I'm seeing before me, and I think I understand how what's before me came to be. The homeless, I guess, will always be with us. I feel homeless myself, separated from my usual routine, invisible as I aimlessly wander. I'm ded reconning again, figuring my location as a relative displacement from that tower I recognize and occasional glimpses of the water. I feel in no danger of getting lost. I'm just checking out the place.

I greet those I meet while I'm walking down the street, not quite as invisible as I feel. I stop in an empty bakery for some breakfast and engage in light-hearted conversation with the counterman who must wonder who I am but thankfully doesn't ask. I sit alone at a corner table and poke at a poem I'd been trying to write but feeling unproductive. I believe that this time was afforded me to do something other than my ordinary. I can complete that poem anytime. I will only be Strangering here this morning and never again, so I regain my attention before stumbling back out into the morning again.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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