Day 113: I’ll Probably Miss The Laundromat Parking Lot
There’s some places that you just know like the back of your hand. A place you can go, whether mentally or physically, to just exist and be alone. There isn’t much to see in my immediate vicinity. If you stay in one place for too long, people tend to look at you funny. I could walk to Prospect Park. It’s 3/4 of a mile there and 3/4 back. Once you’re there, you have to go a bit farther before you can find a place to chill or else it’s just “Woo. I’m in a park. What now?”. Instead of existing in a park, I tend to center myself somewhere else. A place where I can be alone and still have a right to be there. It’s an awkwardly triangular space, surrounded by barbed wire. Where debris and litter roll by from all directions and feral cats rule the land.
It’s the laundromat parking lot. It’s real stupid. And I’m going to miss it.
I first took in a moment there on a sunny Friday afternoon in August. The weight of the world was about to break my spine while miles away, Rachel was being admitted to the ICU. Joe and I sat against the building in cheap folding chairs, baking in the sun. We didn’t say much. There wasn’t much to say. We just stared at the anonymous brick building in front of us and pondered. The world around me was collapsing but in that little space, I felt peace.
It’s become my weekly sanctuary since then. This neighborhood is ridiculously overcrowded. People are piled up on top of each other. It’s hard enough to find a parking spot, finding an outdoor space to be alone is some next level shit. The parking lot is one of the few places where it’s possible for both. I could pull up a chair, hide behind a car and not exist for a little while. Now that they took away the chairs, I plop down on the curb every week and just blend into the fence. On rainy days, I’d drive there. I could listen to the radio and the soft drops pattering on the windshield. Here, I was nothing and nowhere and it was wonderful. As an extra bonus, I could be here while I’m doing actual “chores”. Not only could I have a peaceful time, but I could also look like a good husband in the process.
It’s a rather unsuspecting place. If you don’t look for it, you’ll definitely miss it. It’s tucked in the middle of visual and aural chaos. On the north side is a large brick building that not only covers it, but offers a distinct choice between sun and shade. Across the street is a deli where bikers hang out. They drink their bottles of beer, listen to their music loud and shout even louder. Guarding the lot is a rag-tag gaggle of junkies. They drink their vodka out of little cups, tell jokes, dance, shadow box and politely nod as you walk by. Next to the lot is the semi-deserted shell of a community garden. Everything in there looks to be dead, but on weekends you’ll see people busily tending to it. Park Slopers who didn’t move in quick enough to get into their own community gardens, so they claim it from somebody else. I don’t know what they’re trying to grow, but they don’t do a very good job. Especially when they spend half their time cleaning up broken umbrellas and liquor bottles. Three completely different dynamics surround the lot, but they never pay each other any mind. Except for the one time someone was stabbed to death, but that’s a whole different story.
I did a lot of writing in that lot. There was the one time where I saw the donation bin give birth to a human. I also complained about making too many crumbs. I was here when I wrote about the news. Also when I wanted to fly over Pennsylvania. And when I thought my heart was going to explode. I recounted a whole year and reminisced about how I discovered Ween. I got more work done in the parking lot than I ever did at my desk. But I still want to keep the desk. Sorry, Rachel.
I’ll probably visit the parking lot one more time and then it’ll be over. I’ll be in a new crowded neighborhood and it’ll be up to me to find my next Alone Space. Maybe it will be the balcony. Or a nearby park. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll drive to the laundromat and remember a time when life was much shittier. Everybody should have a place to go to be alone. If you don’t, maybe you should find one. Or maybe you’re just better at life than I am.