In the middle of the room, there’s a long wooden park bench that’s been painted white and worn black on the seat. The word IMMORTALITY was carved into the back of the bench before it was painted. The letters are cut deep and clear. A steady hand with plenty of time carved that word. Tacked to the wall are handwritten ads for mobile homes and trailers, cars, free pit bulls. The sound of metal drums sliding, rolling against metal. I’m surprised at how clean it is, this place where strangers bring their dirty laundry to wash in the machines that other people’s dirty laundry has been inside of. The retro-orange surfaces of the folding tables are so empty, gleaming. The air smells saccharine sweet, manufactured, electric. And people just leave their clothes. We walked in to three dryers spinning and no one around. Not even in the parking lot.
I want to take this warm humming solitude, tear it out, fold it up, shove it in my pocket, and save it for tomorrow. I want to shake it out and crawl back inside around 2:30 in the afternoon, sit on that bench, wait for my clothes to dry.
The beers we opened with the handle of a hairbrush. Parked the car in that part of the field that was shaped like a cupped hand you’d drink water from. Rolled down the windows, set the camera on a tri-pod and listened to the soft shutting of the shutter every certain small passage of time. The sun setting that day was unremarkable in real time, but, upon being captured, that setting sun became something else, became art.
And isn’t that the job of the artist, the job of the writer, the job of the people who make plain things beautiful? To take a bland-at-best falling of the night sky and unrealize it: make it magic, make it new. To make yourself nostalgic for something you never really saw. To re-live the thing as you would in a dream.
Six hours of interstate brought me to this bed and I can already feel the sting of Monday slapping me in the face. The last two hours of our trip home were spent in the dark and my mind felt cool and clear. I was granted the eerie blessing of an Alabama interstate at night: three crosses on a hill lit by the halogen floodlight behind the Sneaky Pete’s, the Mattress Man’s van parked next to the abandoned gas station whose pumps have been consumed by kudzu, the metal carcasses of abandoned cars cold and empty in my headlights, the reflectors humming by on railings close enough to make me tighten my grip on the steering wheel, and the white dotted lines on the road that merge together into the distance to form one long glowing thread to follow. The sound of nothing–of space, time, air–rushing past us, over us, around us. I steeled myself against thinking about tomorrow or yesterday and was met with a great deal of resistance, but my mind was generally quiet. I wore alone like a costume made out of scraps of memory that felt like panty hose on my skin.