Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Park, the Odditurium and Perspective

We walked into Asheville city limits early in the morning. The road was narrow in places, but all-in-all , I saw more walkers in the Asheville area than across all of Tennessee, which made for a pleasant walk. Several public and semi-public spaces were along the route, all in use. Once deep into the city there were bike lanes with bike traffic and all through the city I saw pedestrians of all caliber walking their sidewalks.
I came to a gravel path, that paralleled the road, along a privately owned lake with a park, and walking path used by the public. Many joggers, strollers and dog walkers were using the park. The lake was big enough for small crafts, there were docks and a landing.
Apparently the fees are enough to employ a "warden". We were walking along a section of gravel walkway, which paralleled the busy roadway. When the warden saw us he got out of his "park warden" pickup truck, stomped over to us, he then aggressively informed me that this was a private park and I was to walk on the outside of the white perimeter posts. Nice did not like him coming at us so "hot" and actually barked at him. He was just doing his job, the Warden, so I walked the length of the park straddling the road and avoiding the painted posts spaced every six feet. It was probably the only warden-worthy work he'd had in weeks.
By the late afternoon we had made our way into Downtown Asheville, to Pritchard Park. I people watched/listened for awhile. Pritchard Park is a place where the travelers, and the local homeless congregate, as well as the tourists and locals of some means. I saw and heard many scenes similar to stories my son had shared about "road kids" and their drama he experienced while he was out on the road.
I had not made a connection through town to get back to the van, as is often the case in the inner-city. A woman struck up conversation with me. She offered a ride, it was close to her home. She and her son gave us a ride back to the van, even after a rain storm blew in and soaked us. Because of where we were we also had to bring the water soaked World. I had it wadded up, deflated and bound by a rope... to take with us in her Mercedes. She didn't care at all about the wet mess. She said she had children and animals, she was used to dirt. Still, I tried to wipe down the seat after we got back to the van. She laughed off the dirt water spots on her tan leather seats, headliner, door and seemingly everything I had touched.
I stuffed the wet world in the van. It rained late a few more times into the night, so getting it out to let the canvas dry there, in the grocery-chain parking lot, wouldn't help. I slept using the soaked,deflated world as my pillow in the cramped van. I awoke to sunshine.
In the morning I went to a coin-laundry. I noticed it when we had walked by the previous day. It was tucked behind a paint store on its open basement level and was built on a hill. The parking area backed up to a wide overgrown drainage ditch that separated it from the building and parking area behind it. I was able to get the soaked canvas world out and inflate it while I washed clothes. The long trip from Nashville had worn the paint down to fabric in many places and some of the glued patchworks were separating due to wear. Putting the world up wet only made them worse. Patches that had been holding fast were peeling away and a few areas were in need of intense rehabilitation to keep the world from splitting at it's seams.
Getting the World out, even in a semi-secluded parking area tends to attract attention. I was gathering my clothes and clearing out my backpack to wash when a man from the parking lot across the ravine called over to ask what the world was about. By the time I was finished explaining my journey, the dilemma with the deteriorating world, coupled with the I invitation to the television studio that Sunday, the man offered his loading dock area if I wanted.
Repairing the world is a messy undertaking, I thanked the man from the Red Cross blood bank and kept the possibility in reserve because I knew I may slop some paint or glue and a loading dock is no place for blue and green splatters or drying contact adhesive. Even out in an open area the fumes can be strong. I would search for a more suitable place before taking him up on his offer.
Asheville is a destination for tourists and travelers, several were washing clothes there and I spent most of the hours in conversation with them and others. Even a man who happened to glance over as he drove by, he had frequented the laundry years before. Before he moved in with a woman who now washed his clothes at home. He had looked over nostalgically toward the place he had spent many evenings and had to stop when he saw the World outside his favorite coin-laundry.
He was a carpenter, as am I. We talked of the joy in creativity and the satisfaction of returning to see something we built that will outlast us. Especially projects that bore a special addition born of our own unique perspective. He recalled a home he helped build that had a view over a valley. The builder and contractor were debating the elevation of the enclosed porch addition. My fellow carpenter got a tall, standing ladder and set it on the hillside where the porch would be and by sitting on one step, then another found the perfect view of the mountains without being obscured by a neighboring home. Marking the elevation on a tall stake where his buttocks rested, they calculated the hight of the couch, the thickness of the flooring and built the porch accordingly. He happened by the home years latter and met the owners of the now-furnished home. They had a couch in the exact spot he had imagined. They, and many visitors, had enjoyed the wonderful view over the years. They were glad to let him sit on the couch to take in the fruit of his perspective. The satisfaction of a job done well...
When I had finished drying the last load (I staggered the loads to take more time for the sun to dry the canvas covered world.) Lett g the air out again, I loaded the world back in the van, then drove to West Asheville where I had heard " the cool people live". I don't know how much "cooler" the West side is to any other side of Asheville but there I found The Odditorium. I had a feeling I might be able to use a space in the deteriorating asphalt parking area. It was a bar, the manager was very nice. She told the employees I would be there that night. I got busy patching. I worked all day gluing and patching. By the time it became dark I was painting the World. There were three bands playing that night so I painted with a flash lite headlamp. The bands were loud and I would not have been able to the morning I had little of the world to paint.
Then I talked to the man from the TV station and we confirmed my coming into the studio the next morning.

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