scaffolding: the b-sides
everything that changes the landscape is the landscape
good evening, subscribers. A very long time ago, I thought griefbacon would be an every-Sunday-night thing. There was, and still is, something about the sort of luxuriating dread of Sunday nights that seemed to fit right in with how these essays seek to examine the spaces they inhabit. Anyway, that didn’t stick, but I still always feel a loyalty to Sunday nights, with their odd combination of obligated horror and wasteful permission, and when one of these weekend editions ends up going out on Sunday night, it feels sort of near and dear to me, even if I’d like to start getting them out on Saturday mornings more often instead. But right now it’s Sunday night, and I hope yours is as bearable as possible; I hope you’re managing to find some enjoyment, however strange, in these last few hours of a disappearing week, in the cluttered doorway between what’s already finished and what’s coming.
I’m doing a thing here that I’ve thought about doing a lot before, which is sending a piece of this week’s mid-week essay that got cut in edits (because it didn’t work or was redundant or for one of whatever other millions of reasons stuff gets cut from a piece of writing) but which I still like enough to have saved it elsewhere instead of just deleting it. This isn’t exactly an essay on its own, but maybe it almost is, or maybe it’s just fun the way objectively less successful, but weirdly compelling, b-sides are often fun, and sometimes my favorites. Will this become a regular feature? Maybe! Possibly! Probably? Anyway, here’s a scaffolding b-side.
(this is a subscriber-only post, but here’s a tiny reminder that yearly subscriptions are on significant sale right now, if you’re not yet a subscriber, but want to be, or if you know someone else who would like to subscribe but can’t afford the full price.)
I guess I’ve had scaffolding on one other apartment, actually, or on the building anyway. There was scaffolding for a few months on the first apartment I lived in after college, the one over by the highway, a few blocks south and west from where we live now. That apartment had a bright blue bathroom and a skinny kitchen with a window over the street. The window in the kitchen was higher than the windows in the living room because the block outside ran down a hill at a sharp angle, toward the park and then the river. When it snowed, when the big snowstorms—SIXTEEN INCHES AND FALLING—blew in overnight the way they used to, the next morning, when the ground was still thick and white, families would drag sleds along that same block down the hill to the park. I’d wake up to the crunch and hiss and whizz of boots and plastic, and the growl of neighbors revving their cars’ engines again and again, stuck in the snow, ice gathering around the wheels.
I thought, then, that I would eventually get to live everybody else’s life, that every version of being in the world I’d ever observed would one day be made available to me, if I just hung around near it long enough. I believed that nothing was off-limits or out-of-bounds, that no doors were really closed; one day I would be the people dragging sleds to the park and the families having snowball fights and the couples newly in love chasing each other through the new snow. One day I would have a car and a place to drive it, and it would be me in my car on a cold morning, fruitlessly spinning the wheels in the snow, turning the key again and again in the ignition.