A few days ago Neal Lamontagne, a city planner and adjunct professor at UBC, posted a tweet with a student’s poetic reflections on downtown public space.
It struck me and it stuck with me. One of those things that hover around in your mind until it finds the right spot to settle in for a bit. Yesterday I had a nap, woke up and this is what I wrote. I tweeted it to Lamontagne but since I know screenshots aren’t accessible to everyone, I am also posting it here.
He called it a poem – I would say it’s a work in progress. So it may change. Be added to or subtracted – or maybe I’ll take it down and post something else. Who knows?
For now – these are some words about how I experience public and private space as a wheelchair user (and who is poor- not middle class or wealthy), in Vancouver.
I Want Blank Space
Where I live
I like walls – as friends – but I’m not into sleeping with three of them at the same time – especially with a fourth hovering over watching us
No really – back the fuck up
Every time you leave your washroom
that’s what I have to do
No room to turn around
They know the price of turning
No one bothered to calculate the cost of not
You know that asshole bully in the movie that dangles the kid’s backpack in the air – out of reach?
I live with him
I can’t reach 50 percent of the items in my home because someone decided cupboards and shelves go up not around
Squeezed into a corner
Five minutes washing dishes, 30 minutes of back pain
Stretch– then up and over – dangle down in
Throw plate to side – hope it doesn’t break (I have no glasses anymore)
Go outside – lots of room out there
Good Idea – Exercise – Socialize – Play – Hell, Make it a Day
Yes, I’m ready to order I’d like a heaping helping of blank space please
sorry sir could you pull in your chair – sorry, but that’s not enough would you mind getting up – sorry but could we just slide the table a little to the right – fuck it, I’ll just take it to-go– I can’t do this twice.
One day I will glide along W I D E sidewalks
And sometimes, for no particular reason at all I’ll just stop
Not a problem
Pass by or stop and say hi
Wouldn’t that be something?
To stop and look around
Lick rain drops as they fall from the sky
Get lost in your head
When did we ban daydreaming?
I want to know
Was it around the same time we started living in a nightmare?
Causal or correlation – who can say?
You know what I miss?
You need space to get lost
Some of the best moments happened when I didn’t know where the fuck I was going
Me a nd e r i ng
No one meanders anymore.
No one even uses the word meander.
Left Right Left Right….
Does everything have to be efficient?
Asking for a friend I might meet – if I could – if meandering weren’t prohibited
This friend – the one I don’t have yet – requires space.
Spontaneous eruptions of friendship and fun occupy a lot of space.
Change of pace – change of plans.
Fast Slow Open Late
Sorry, the Park Closes at 10 pm
Laughter needs air or it’s nothing but a failed gulp.
A smirk is nihilism
A belly laugh is optimism
Wow Wonder Hmmm Ponder
Time needs space.
Blank space is where you set sail
head off for adventures unknown