Monday, July 15, 2019

Not just a building anymore

Lines, and lives, in concrete
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It only looks featureless and soulless if you don't take the time to let your eyes linger a bit. Concrete block construction designed less by architects than a ruler-equipped committee. A building that isn't so much forgotten as it was never really remembered in the first place.

Yet people live here. Stand on the sidewalk long enough and the tiny red flowerboxes silently materialize out of the near-but-not-quite-monochrome background. Tune your ears just so and you can hear the conversations from above. Children playing behind open windows. Old couples arguing over who cleans up after the BBQ. Somewhere on an unseen higher floor, birds feast noisily in a feeder.

Life happens here. Simple, everyday life. Or, more precisely, lives. Most of them seemingly different from our own - in language, employment, politics, parenting style, you name it - but with enough overlap with our own to seem strangely familiar. As if we're more alike than not.

My parents and in-laws once lived here, and now three of them are no longer with us. They, too, led lives here that seemed ordinary to outsiders on the sidewalk, yet were well beyond extraordinary to those lucky enough to be invited inside.

How you see this place, or any other, for that matter, depends on where you stand, on how you're connected to those who live here, and on how much time you're willing to invest connecting your life to theirs.

That word again: Time. We never get enough of it. We never know if we're making the most of what we've been given. Maybe I need more time out here to figure it out.

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