Saturday, October 17, 2009

A gray Saturday in Virginia

Today is Saturday and it could be the first day of the rest of my life.
But then so could any day.
The leaves lie limp on the tree outside the office window and there's a grayness hanging over the squat buildings of the toy soldiers' compound across the street and the gantries of the great shipyard beyond.
Soon the leaves will turn into a beautiful portfolio of red and russets although it's hard to imagine anything beautiful growing from the limp yellow offerings hanging outside the office.
It's funny how a densely populated city on a Saturday afternoon can feel like the surface of the moon. There's not a soul on the streets, trash is being kicked along and abandoned in cold corners by an aimless wind and even the linear highways are bereft of all but the occasional car. I hear a low whirr from my office window and it's gone.
There's a scanner voice out there in the areas of the office that still lie in quasi darkness like the half abandoned strip malls round these parts.
And information lies all around me, but nobody's making any sense of it. My redundant notepads are still here, a testament to two years of collecting information for people who will quickly forget.
Who now remembers Mary S. Thomas, two counts of child neglect or Christopher A. Judkins, abduction and kidnapping?
These nefarious acts that scour and scar and ruin existences, are commonplace on the yellowing pages of my notepad. The shorthand outlines take on a life of their own on the page. I can't even recall if they made it into print.
So many lives and deaths are forgotten about. Today I am driving through the city to see a woman whose uncle was blown away outside a convenience store two years ago.
It was the first day on my job as a crime correspondent. I heard the call but my predecessor went out and covered it. She wrote of the everyday nature of death. The school bus that had just disgorged its cargo when the youth worker was peppered with bullets outside the store.
The store closed for a while. Then it reopened. Life went on.
A few days later I went on the peace march. A small crowd lighted candles and placed flowers on every street corner of carnage, before they went home to finish off another day. So many victims: all forgotten now.
My predecessor ignored the quotes I had collected and put her name alone on the story. I only cared in passing. She went on to the education beat but left soon afterwards. Everbody's forgotten about her now.
Like the wind that batters old papers and sends them skidding from gutter to sidewalk, we are buffeted along uncertain paths and we play many roles before we return to a second childhood.
And we forget. Many of us completely, but some of us not so well.
I have a problem forgetting. Like I said I am a collector. I hoard memories, I miss faces; I reguarly make futile searches on Facebook for my best friend at university.
I miss people. I miss whole continents. I often see the late afternoon sun caught in the windows form a dazzling sculpture of mirrors on cliffs of Positano when I close my eyes.
Then I open them again. And it's still a gray Saturday in Virginia.

3 comments:

  1. I too find it hard to forget.....wondeful post, glad I stopped by today...thank you for sharing;)

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  2. Aww sounds a bit bitter sweet. I too am a horder of memories but been told I remember wrong.. whatever they are still mine.

    And a bit of random, when writing for a US paper do you have to spell America?

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