Welcome to “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. For those of you who are new readers, when I refer to Zelda (or Z), I am referring to my white cane.
Encased in Glass
My neighborhood has gone insane. It has most definitely passed from a little nutty to totally bat crap crazy. There isn’t a day I walk down my street or into the park near my house, that I don’t pass someone either having a full-out conversation with an inanimate object or someone only they can see, or they are throwing their rage and obscenities at me. There is human shit on the street, mixed in with the dog shit that irresponsible dog owners don’t pick up, and corners that smell like urinals. I have to watch my dogs every minute we are out, to make sure that they don’t get into an area of grass or behind bushes where there may be human waste. Sections of sidewalks have turned into shanty towns that are populated by an array of substance abusers, down trodden and looking for safety and a sense of community; and, no matter how it may look to the outsider, these are communities.
I may sound lacking in compassion, and I can’t deny that the shit on the street grosses me out and the rage of some of the people whose paths I cross frightens me, but the communities mark a change in my neighborhood, perhaps even in the city as a whole. It is as if these communities themselves, without premeditation, are shining a light on the poverty of the city and what lies on the other side. All over Hollywood, and other parts of Los Angeles, huge apartment buildings are being built; they are referred to as luxury apartments and charge anywhere from $3000 to $6000 a month for rent. They are also communities; communities for the wealthy that offer gyms and swimming pools and roof decks and community rooms and super markets. The tent communities and the luxury apartment compounds exist side by side and are built on the same premise; people looking for a place that is self-contained and feels like home. When you strip away the filth or the luxury, human desires at their most basic, look the same.
What about the world in-between poverty and wealth? I think it is a fence, a tight rope, a purgatory of sorts. For me, it is one of many fences that I perch on, waiting to see which side will pull me down. I live on fences between blindness and sight, between success and failure, and between poverty and wealth. Are those of us who live in purgatory also a community? Or are we in limbo, waiting to see where we end up? Sometimes I feel like I live encased in glass, a witness to the crumbling and to the building up of my city. Perhaps the spaces inside the glass, on the tight rope, in purgatory, are actually the best places to reside. I ride neither high nor low. I am comfortable and content on my fence. Does this make me complacent? Callous? Naive? Wise? Lucky? I don’t know.
In all of the chaos and change that I witness from such a strange vantage point, the same questions come back to me. Where does blindness fit in to the equation of the city? Where does Zelda fit in? Does Z make me invisible or put a target on my back? Perhaps it literally depends which side of the street we are on; which side of the fence we dip our toes over, from one moment to the next. Or, is it most likely, that neither community can see the blind lady up on the fence, encased in glass?