Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Being a Building

So I was walking down the street.
I've walked down this street [Dalhousie Street] perhaps 18 million times.
Give or take a few hundred.
And there is this one building I really like, and I'm not sure why. It is directly across from my own apartment building, where I live.
You know you can walk past a building 18 million times and never once stop to wonder how long it's been there.
But the other day I wondered.
I looked up and saw at the very top of the thing, a date.
1899.
I stopped and stared until I was dizzy.
1899?
That's like PRIOR TO ----- the last century.
My own building where I live, where I am typing this from, was built in the early 1970's.
A mere YOUNGSTER compared to this venerable brown brick building across the park.
This 1899 building WATCHED my building grow up!
But as I stood there and looked up I did some contextualizing.
My spell-checker warns me that this is not a word, but I don't care. I am going to use it anyway, because it is exactly what I am doing. I am contextualizing.

My father was born in 1926. And, while he lived, he loved to tell me stories about his childhood... and so I am standing here on the corner of Dalhousie and Cathcart, looking up, and I'm thinking -- before even one of my father's stories existed, this building was standing here on this corner, being a building.
I think that is so neat.
My father's father was born somewhere in Austria in 1897.
So -- when my paternal grandfather was 2 years old, this building was busy being a building.
The first tenants were all exited about renting the space. Prime real estate. Yonder, where my building now stands -- a crow was perhaps flying right through the very space where I now sit typing by candlelight in my penthouse suite.
[Ooops. Spell-check again. Apparently "penthouse" is some sort of magazine!]
But -- I think you get my drift right?

Thomas Hardy was just then taking pen in hand, to write The Darkling Thrush.
My father's every story was decades distant.
His father was still not proficient with the toilet!
Hell, the toilet itself was not invented yet!
And this building, this one right here.... was...... was --

So I walked across the street, and I touched a few of the lower bricks. Spoke to them.
Proportionally speaking, I spoke to a few of the bricks between the ankle and knee of this building. And I said, "Remember me, building."
And I hugged that building that will be standing, right here, long after I am permanently horizontal.


3 comments:

Stefanie said...

Things like that are amazing when you stop to think about them, aren't they? I have a friend who lives in a house that is 100 years old. It's not a historic house and there is nothing fancy about it, it is just where she lives. But My mind boggles when I visit her and think about all the things and people this house has seen.

Isabella said...

That's very phenomenological (I think). Looks like a very nice building. Do you ever feel like it's watching you?

Your spell-check must needs exited to do some contextualizing of its own.

Shark said...

I have a friend who lives in a village outside of Rome in a house that is over 400 years old. It was probably already there when Shakespeare was writing about fair Verona.