Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Place-ness


Some places have a definite feeling of “place-ness”, which means that when you are there, you feel like you’re Someplace: Famous monuments. Exotic ports. Grandma’s house. When you are there, you know where you are.

But place-ness in not just about popularity or familiarity. It’s about feelings, which vary between people and over time. It’s elusive. Today’s Center of the World might be tomorrow’s Nowhere.

When I was a fifteen, my dreams and aspirations revolved around malls: home of Cinnabon and the Guess Store and the multiplex. Malls, which were situated in a glamorous suburb where the houses were new and shiny (and matching!).

Then, over the years, the place-ness of that suburb wore off, presumably not just for me. And the shop fronts were vacant and the houses got shabby. And living in that once-shiny land feels like being left behind.

It's not all bad, however, because we do have The Dump. Sure, its stinks. Torn plastic flutters in the wind. It’s full to the dirty horizon with all the stuff that no one wants. But the wonder of the dump is its big machines, trundling over the wreckage, shuffling it to and fro. Machines of power and purpose. Machines that are yellow and really...cute.

You could say my world-view has changed.
A visit to The Dump makes me feel alive. More than an echoing mall, anyway. The Dump, you see, has become a Place.