Tamed nature makes you afraid of real nature. Alleys in city parks, no matter how winding, will never settle the fear of a path in a forest or by a lake. The contained force of a storm in drops, no matter how big, seen falling from a window up high of some building, will not do as the slowly coming of dark clouds from beyond hills, mountains or the see, when colors are not the property of things but in the eyes as the fields turn into hues of green, gray and black, as the echo of thunder, now ravaging other areas, gets muffled then booming then roaring, before it all passes by quietly in the end, only to let it be known that it just wasn’t meant to be – this time. Sunlight’s now reflected in patches of yellow and orange and red, on days that are different, on days that are the same.
Some lights have made it year after year. Others haven’t. It’s the (natural) selection of decorations, a species subject to fashion, style, fleeting moods, or the unexpected, mysterious disruption in the electric circuit that can occur at any given moment of those 350-odd days when lights are confined to cardboard boxes, when tiny light bulbs pop at decibels below our hearing threshold on, say, 20 March, 5 June, 19 September, 23 November… The little bears with multicolored bottoms – they’d lived through the fall of the Soviet Union! – went on strike unanimously during a storm. Then the myriad flowers, one by one, were reduced to five still glittering, three dimly lit, and eight all gone. There have been ivy-like streams of light in the shape of pinecones, cookies, candles, moons, stars, suns, circles, triangles, spheres, dogs, angels, owls, doves of peace and leaves of life. And some have lasted a bit. And others just haven’t.
At some popular exhibition in town. The uniformed girl, who had been seen getting off the bus at the corner in a terrible rush (several times), was on her high chair reading. Now ambling by the same work of art. Is it really? Yes. No. Drowning into its details. Brushing by the surface of its general idea. It’s not worth much. It’s a masterpiece. From two to five pm in Room B. Then Room D for three hours. Different works; different ideas – explicative panels available in five languages. “Excuse me, could I…?” “Please.” “Do you know where the…?” End of the hall, to the left – she pointed at it, the WC door, white in the white wall, could’ve looked like a work of art itself, if only he had signed it. The next days she was still rushing off the bus, running late.
Now that most leaves have fallen and a white coat blankets somewhere the side of city streets – it felt odd to hear the notes of a summer song, on at full blast all through the hot months. The music, out of tune and in broken pieces, came from the hands of a child accordionist who squeezed his tattered instrument in a rhythm vaguely familiar. Surely at the gypsy camp he had skipped the lesson on the carols of the season – those who will move passengers riding around town – or he, did he maybe run away from a life of hardship and made his living now from the only tunes he’d learnt before escaping? Ah, the common thought that they must want something different. On he played, little red beret à la Santa Claus. Didn’t get one single coin, but some were still humming his tune on the stairs leading to the cold world above.
There exists a certain kind of solidarity among cold- and late-night riders on any weekday or Sunday. Bus, subway or city train. It’s silent, warm and sympathetic in the way fellow travellers are acknowledged when they get off and vanish into the dark world outside. Whoever split time surely realized that seven days and their subdivision would have more of an impact on humans than the discovery of any new continent. The whispered yet enthusiastic conversation was along these lines, “You’ve got to hand it to it. Busses have their advantages. The subway stops all the time even if there’s no one to get on or off. Buses can just keep going.” “Yes, but there’s traffic lights.” “On the subway, too. You never got stuck in between stations? Look at us now. Just not stopping. Who the hell gets on and off at these god-forsaken stops in the middle of the night?” (And then one did.)