I can smell the lawn mowers destroying the wildflowers and weeds in a grassy lot slated to become a carwash. The air is choked with the sound of rattling rotary blades and the heavy scent of crushed leaves and pollen. My eyes and ears sting as I walk past. A better rested, happier me would’ve thought that the struggle between the forces of clean cars and new tarmac and this vestige of dirty wilderness was profound. But I’ve just finished a hard shift of getting snarked at by customers who don’t know jack from their thronelike Porsche SUVs and I’m feeling bitter and uncharitable. I don’t want poetry or profundity right now; I want kicking, screaming, and biting. I want things to be destroyed. I want to get as far away from this mess of car noises and boiling concrete as possible.
I stop myself from slapping the tailgate of the truck that idles in the crosswalk section of the street. I don’t have the energy to make a stink about his flagrant disregard of traffic law right now. And traffic laws only matter if someone makes a stink about them anyways. I jaywalk a red light and cut across a lot with some developer’s sign posted next to it. A flurry of cicadas buzz around my feet and legs, disturbed from their spot in the shade by the clomping of my boots. My mind lingers, wishing for a second that I could also hide from the sweltering sun in the shade of the underbrush. I’ve tried before, laying in a field of long grass. It was unpleasant, full of prickles and itchy things.
I remember tracing deer trails by the river when I was younger. I remember seeing the wallows they would make by pushing circles of grass and weeds flat to make a bed. In a way, that isn’t so far from what the property developer does with their excavators and fences, is it? Flattening a comfortable place to stay, imposing their specific brand of law on an area. The difference, though-when the deer get up in the morning the grass bends back in a matter of hours. I wonder how long it would take for our concrete island to dissolve. Two generations? Three?
I spy a plant growing up the side of a yard fence and feel a peculiar form of delight. Someone has planted trumpet vine in their backyard without any precautions in place to stop it from overrunning their meager planter box. I look forward to their manicured lawn and fence being torn apart by the dainty runners of the beautiful orange creeper. I look forward to watching one specific symbol of human artifice being ruined by its owner’s hubris. It doesn’t make today suddenly good, but the schadenfreude of it all puts a little smile on my face. I am ready to re-enter the world of human conversation.