August 31, 2010

Joy in Odd Places

There's something weird that's been making me happy. I don't know that I can explain it, or even that I ought to try, but that isn't the sort of consideration that stops me.

This goes back a ways, about a year. I was walking through the skyway in downtown Minneapolis (habitrails for cold-weather city dwellers with a tradition of good infrastructure) when I saw it.


I blinked, a bit confused. I was in the middle of a high-end department store. I hadn't had my coffee yet, but I knew the floor shouldn't be winking at me.

Even as I got closer, I couldn't tell what it was. All I really knew was that it didn't belong there according to the normal rules of things. I was intrigued. No one else seemed to notice.

Finally, I was there, right on top of it, and I could see what it was--a massive rhinestone stuck in the crack between two tiles. I don't know how it got there. All the stories I tried to tell myself got very silly very quickly, based on not much more than the fact that it was just off the corner of the men's underwear display, which wasn't and isn't actually interesting enough to support said silly stories. Or at least, interesting only in the sense that the carefully studied and agreed upon degree of detail in simulation of men's genitalia is interesting. Not much to do with rhinestones.

Having identified it and had my fun with it, I moved on. I don't usually use the skyway much unless I'm getting coffee, so I only noted now and again that it was still there.

Then I had surgery. Then I had complications from my surgery. Then I had complications from my long recovery. Then, finally, I went back to work. I needed coffee.

It was still there. It winked at me for the first time in many long weeks. And despite the fatigue and the stress about what I'd find at work, it made me ridiculously happy. It was still there.

Maybe at that point I identified with it hopefully, this little useless thing that had found a place from which it refused to be dislodged. Maybe I just needed the wink. Or the pretty. I didn't care. I winked back.

More than half a year later, it's still there. How many people have seen it? How many times has that floor been cleaned (over a snowy, salty Minnesota winter)? No one has dislodged it or tidied it away, or even carted it off as a little, portable piece of shiny that "no one" will miss.

It endures, this improbable bit of ephemera, this thing that is so out of place, this emblem of disposable tackiness. It isn't supposed to. It isn't supposed to even be there. It isn't supposed to appeal. It isn't supposed to matter.

But it endures, and it fits, and it accretes meaning all out of proportion to what it would be as described by anyone else. And it brings me joy.


D. C. said...

Stephanie, if you've never been to Navajo country try to make time to come and spend a while.

Beauty is. Beauty needs no reason, it needs no context. Perhaps it creates context, but that's just an interpretation. Spend enough time surrounded by beauty that doesn't care in the least about us, and after a while you stop caring about reasons too.

Walk in beauty.

Stephanie Zvan said...

I have spent some time in Navajo country, D.C., but not nearly enough. Not even close to enough.

D. C. said...

We're in Phoenix, so not close enough to be convenient -- but if you can stand cats and clutter, you've got a crash pad near Sky Harbor.

You know how to get in touch.

Silver Fox said...

Your story brings a lump to my throat, and it makes me smile at the same time. It seems symbolic, your last sentence, perhaps. And it makes me think of rainbows, colorful bright shiny spectra.

Stephanie Zvan said...

D.C., I haven't been down since my grandparents stopped snowbirding, but getting a hold of you before the next time I make it was already on my list.

Thank you, Silver Fox.

Kelleytastic said...

Listening to trains does that for me. It's a reminder that no matter what else is going on in my life or the world, some things are constant and the world keeps spinning. Hearing a train in the distance is always a moment of zen for me.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you found your diamond in the rough. Beautiful story, beautifully told!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Luckily, Kelley, I think you understand very well that you find your happiness wherever it happens to be. :)

scribbler, coming from you, that is very high praise indeed. Thank you.