Sunday, March 11, 2007

Echoes of gathering long after it's dispersed

A gem of a apartment in Hayes valley has a roof deck at the back. 15' x 20' with a side corridor that runs the length of the apartment it is a rarety to have such a feeling of openess in the city, a sharp contrast to a balcony that is confining. There is room to roam, to pace absent-mindedly.

Around a rectangular wooden table in the middle are an assortment of chairs, each of simple design but of different color. Each shows the ravages of rain, sun and time. And their position suggests something more than a random arrangement. Though the last occupants have long since gone, it is as if an imprint of their presence still remains. The table seems to have been a focal point given the aspect of chairs towards it. One chair remains off to the side, separted from the rest. Its angle suggests isolation. Perhaps though it was merely positioned in the shade of the wall to afford the maid a break and some respite from the heat.

This is all in contrast to a scene in Bubion, a pueblo in the Almijara mountains - foothills of the Sierra Nevada of Southern Spain - in the summer of 2003. A group of men were sitting in row upon a stone bench passing the time in loud and animated conversation as they are want to do. Coming upon them, their din abated momentarily as they scrutinized the stranger approaching, but like cicadas in the bush it quickly resumed to its previous noisier level.

Not twenty minutes later upon returning to the same spot the men had dispersed and the space was transformed. Now an unremarkable, unmemorable spot, there was no evidence of their congregation, of the lively interlocutions, the spirit of their exchanges was gone.

Outside in silence 10 chairs stand in the rain.

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