No Place

paper lanterns floating away.

We walked out to snow covered trees, grass, hedges, porches and cars. The sidewalks were snow-free and even dry. It wasn’t crisp, but not humid either. It was pretty in that snow-silence way and without real cold.

The snow was losing its grip on the branches and parachuted down to the ground in a zillion formations of white. It was the inverse of white paper lanterns that use candle power to float up into the air.

It was a business walk, but we weren’t in a hurry. There’s an apartment building at the end of the block. It’s only three stories. I’m not sure how long it’s been there. It’s not like one of the sexy new buildings with marble counters and artisan wood floors with a big common lobby with a fireplace for the hipsters to hang. It’s a simple rectangular building made of red brick, maybe from the sixties. It’s not ugly enough to be from the seventies.

The building is on the corner and as we squared it I saw an old mattress and boxspring on the curb. It looked like a sheet cake frosted with snow. There was a chair just beyond the matress, also next to the curb. It was one of those chairs made out of that heavy wood composite. A super cheap chair that is super sturdy, except it’s prone to splinter or rock. The seat had snow on it and some snow clung along the edge of the chairback. There was another one. My eyes followed the space between the sidewalk and the street. Next to the tree there was a pile which included a backpack, a smashed purse, some towels, a folder with papers, a cushion and a blender.

An eviction.

There was the grey box that was a 27″ tube TV. A broken three-shelf bookcase made out of the same composite wood stuff. The dog sniffed in another pile of homegoods and I pulled him. I didn’t like him sifting through somebody’s stuff.

An eviction always makes me sad. It’s someone’s worldly possessions tossed out on the street. Cruelly exposed. A person or a family’s dinner dishes, shower curtains, socks, CDs and books. Pieces of their lives broadcast next to the street.

I feel like a voyeur peeping in a stranger’s window. I turn my head out of respect for these people who I don’t know but who I now know about from their belongings.

It isn’t the worst eviction I’ve seen. I look at the piles again and don’t see anything that says “kids.” No colorful toys, little shoes, kids books or school supplies. I sigh in relief. And, actually, it looks like the remains represented an abandoned apartment, so nobody was put out. At least not in this transaction.

There was a cardboard box at the end of the eviction train. The dog poked his nose in the quarter-filled box. More papers, a small round vase with a fluted top, a coffee mug and, on the top of the pile a big black book. BIBLE.

I jangled the leash and told the dog let’s go and mumbled a nonspecific petition to the morning sky.