Thursday, May 7, 2015

Un Poco Triste

Sweet daughters in the park below their former home
This past weekend my Sweet Daughters and I spent our final day all together before the move to Mexico: tasty breakfast at a boutique bakery, round of miniature golf in the spring sunshine, improv comedy matinee show, ice cream cones, and, finally, a visit to the funky school-turned-art studio where Daughter 1 grew up and Daughter 2 was born--a place where our three lives were intimately connected for a decade.

It was a fun day except for the ending which left us feeling a little sad--this place of many memories is now overgrown or being slowly torn asunder.

Heavy equipment is digging through the overgrown garden;
piles of building materials are stacked and strewn around the
property. Some murals we don't remember remain below the
roof, on which pyramids once lit up to represent the Pleiades.
After nearly 30 years of sheltering poor people with artistic intentions, its residents have been evicted, the site has been reclaimed by the school district and is currently surrounded by a nearly quarter-mile long, chainlink rent-a-fence enclosing a deserted-looking worksite, completion date unknown.

It was a place of comfortable gardens, idiosyncratic rooms and installation-art hallways, huge stone busts of obscure scientists and poets, a heritage apple orchard, vast graffiti murals and bumpy relationships. Now, the colorful rooms are no longer visible. A wall of gray concrete blocks has replaced the generous many-paned windows of this early Baby Boom building.

"Non-significance" of existing use as
an art studio is the school district's
justification for its costly plan to turn
the building into a temporary school.
We walked along the perimeter looking, futilely, for a way past the high fence so we could explore and identify some remains. We read the Land Use billboard and Daughter 1 scoffed at the School District's justification for its takeover--"non-significance" of its previous use as art studios. Her attitude had been hardened by an us-versus-them struggle during our long tenancy.

For Daughter 2, this was not only the place where she was raised from infancy into childhood; it was also the site of her mom's workshop for nearly 20 years.

For me, this was where I acted--half the time or more--as their single parent. Il Teatro Pescatore was born here, and I'm equally as happy with the shipping crate bamboo cottage I built for my daughters, the flat rooftop sculpture that lit up every night to represent a cluster of stars, and the annual Halloween Haunted Hallway where we each posed, for the neighborhood, as staff member of a scarily demented school. All gone.

Part of all that has already been told, here or here, or is a longer story for another time, if at all. The memories will conflate and fade as we grow older, but the old school was a special place for the three of us, and many others.