The relationship between space and memory is an interesting one. Of the space: One day it was probably not ours, and one day it will probably be not ours again. A used car world. It is true for the spaces in which we live, as much as it is true for the atoms in our bodies. But just for a little while the space feels like a part of us, so we make it a part of us.
The cigarette smoke in my parents’ house is so thick it’s like water. The living room has its own toxic atmosphere. When you breath it in it’s like breathing in their time in that space.
His father took meticulous care of that yard. Our families were very different. My dad worked all night, and slept all day. My neighbor and his son would play catch, bike around the neighborhood together, etc.
He and his wife suddenly got divorced, and she moved away with their child. He was left with his dog and his lawn. Like a country song. He still lives in that house today.
My other next door neighbor was also a meticulous lawn keeper. That was all I knew of him growing up. He didn’t have any family, never saw any friends. He had mutton chops. That’s pretty much it.
Every few summers my dad would set up a swimming pool on the side of the yard nearest to this neighbor’s shed. One summer he hung himself in that shed. The police would later find a loaded gun and piles of unpaid bills in his house.
Apparently his body was hanging there for a while, the neighbors across the street were alerted by the smell, and they came to check up on him. I’ve returned to this space many times, even in dreams. Even now, watching the frame buffer decode these memories, wondering if he was hanging there while me and my brothers were playing in the pool. All we could smell was chlorine.
My Mom is from Germany. She was born in the east during the cold war, and her family escaped over the Berlin wall in the late 50s when she was still a baby.
Growing up, my mom was a house keeper at a hotel attached to an Airport. This is the last time she had a job. I think there was a joy in that independence. It was also the last time I remember her being happy. My dad would pick us up from school, and then we would drive out of town to the airport and wait for my mom to get off work. These were the days when you could wander idly around an airport terminal for hours without raising any suspicion. We would sit and watch the airplanes take off and land.
Living around building and trees that always obscure the horizon, vast spaces have always fascinated me.
A few miles down, the canals run through the empty fields were a cotton mill once stood. The mill burned down, and the city built a highway interchange. There is something enduring about this space. The strange solitude of being in the middle of a city, and yet all alone. The car, like other technology, can magnify the space between people. The cars on the highway are avatars, but feel impossibly far away.
One of my earliest memories. Almost completely gone. I think I thought it was the future. One day everyone would have a wall of TVs in there home.
Or maybe- in some child-like metric- it was a measure of success or value. The more TVs you own the more valuable you are.
Look at me now.
I was in a Postal Exchange on a military base. This is pretty much a standard department store, but run by the military. My parents shopped there because it was sales-tax free. In one corner of the base they had mattresses, groceries and walls of TVs- in another they had nuclear fallout shelters, as far as the eye can see.