Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Cherish the Illusion of Permanence
Riding past the Three Fountains tonight, an iconic modern building designed in 1963 by architect Al Beadle, I was struck by how the low sunlight flowed in and lit up the pillars and walls. The building itself is straightforward to describe, all planes, steel, glass, bright condo boxes stacked up to live inside of. Then I looked across the street, and time kind of ping-ponged a loop-de-loop inside my head.
I think I probably should have chosen to live somewhere informed with a sense of permanence to its built environment, and not one in which the stores, the businesses, the buildings, and the neighborhoods they occupy all seem to rotate in an out on whims and winds of change, on ebb and flow of fortunes and famines, trends and fashions, like the plaza across the street from Three Fountains for example.
For a while it was a nondescript corner mini-mart next to a neighborhood post office. The mini-mart was nothing special, except the mom who owned it knew me by name and always had a fresh tray of her own baklava out to push as she rented videos. Then the post office closed, the mini-mart closed, a very good restaurant opened up and then went out of business in spite of its popularity. Nothing happened for a little while, then a coffee lady opened a cart in the side lot, making into kind of a pleasant little garden to stop in the morning for an excellent espresso, and she did well for a while, until fortunes changed, they spiffed up the old neighborhood post office into a popular wine bar, and then spiffed up the former mini-mart and failed restaurant into a popular neighborhood foodery that serves mad pizza, stellar cheese burgers, and a wide selection of great stuff. It appears to be doing well and will probably be around for a while, until it's not anymore, and someone turns the space into a parking lot, or drug store, or gas station, or neighborhood post office. When I look at stuff like this, one corner, a handful of years, it's no wonder I sometimes feel like I have trouble integrating the flow of years into a meaningful and personal continuum. Then I notice the light flowing into Three Fountains, sit a moment by the water, splash my hand through it, and some integration occurs. It's not a quiet village with eternal houses made of stone with turf on the roof, but it's been on the earth longer than I have, so to me I remember it as always having been there. Three Fountains are here, like the sign says, and they are swimming in sunlight, as they have been for a long time.