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the white table

The days are not long. The nights are short. Guitars are hiding in cases, with scraps of paper tucked inside. The pen is full. There is a fresh notebook, with creamy pages. The little white desk is in the middle of the living room, a cascade of receipts and laundry perched on it.

I clean it off, have lunch as it stares back at me. This focal point, this fulcrum where my thoughts become real, this cheap folding table from Ikea. It is familiar, and patient.

this must go


Every week, the city transforms. An old bus stop with thick cracked glass and a tiny metal garbage can that was always on fire is suddenly gone. A gleaming, modern structure is there now. A route map, laser cut brushed steel, a bench that is not lopsided. The old supermarkets are torn down, and shiny new ones replace them in less than a month. In the metro there are new cars that do not rattle, no torn vinyl seats giving up their ancient stuffing.

It is all sheen. A facade.

The chicken sold on styrofoam trays is still old, past its sell-date, sitting in those cases. The same milk, made from powder that claims it is fresh. The parmesan (spelled carefully that way) is palm oil and wood pulp. The bus stop is new, but the trolley bus is ancient  - two great limbs connecting it to the wires that run above everything here. The driver has to get out and reconnect them when they jump away, in the snow, in the rain, in the dark while everyone waits inside.

Shacks and one-car garages that slumped against walls and trees somehow standing for decades are disappearing. Every week, a bare spot of dirt where one stood. They were no danger, and no one complained about them. They were just old. But the city is in the middle of a campaign of bulldozers and papers that say "this must go".


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