a place - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The street winds over the hill like a carelessly discarded belt, grey and cracked with age. On each side the houses are separated by yards large enough to accommodate farm animals, but this is no rural district. The homes are many times larger than even the biggest of families might need, yet in each is mostly parents with one child. To each dwelling there are more sports cars than people and kitchens that cost more than our homes just a block over. But I can ride my bike down here, enjoying the wide avenues, the leafy green trees and the relative safety now that the security guards patrol. There is talk of the residents paying to have the road repaved, they don't want the same repair service as the rest of us, nor the same schools or health service. Our parents are the nurses, the technicians and the fast food servers and they would like us to stay in our ramshackle boxes and never enter their plush neighbourhoods.
From the bow of the boat the harbour comes into focus like a high-definition movie. Above the gulls swoop, crying in that repetitive way they do. The houses are identical in shape and size but no two are the same shade. They are yellow, lilac, blue, red, orange and every shade in between. Each one is not only a house but also a shop run by the folks that live above, selling ice-cream, meat, vegetables or fine leather goods. From the bright yellow lampposts hang the flags of European nations and in the town square there is a market. I can't see the fish from here, but I know from my many visits that they are there. Lying on those tables, silver scales to the sun, is the morning's catch. They are fresher than I can hope for back home, were the food has been frozen and breaded with seasoning and sugar some months before. The air here is fresher than in my dreams back in the city. One day I will come here and never leave. One day.
Under the mist that swirls thicker than hairspray in a beauty pageant prep-room lies sand that shifts under the pressure of my boot. I can't see it, only feel. Out there, only meters away is the ocean, alive with constant motion and millions of sea-dwellers. Beyond this wall of white I can smell and hear it. The waves are neither the gentle kind that roll up the beach like a overflowing bath tub, nor the crashing kind that turn murky with golden swirling crystals. They move with force but die within a few feet. From them comes the salty smell, that fragrance that conjures fishing fleets and nets of sun-bleached blue cord hanging out to dry. This place could be anywhere, I guess at a stretch this could be some kind of artificial simulation, but it isn't. This is my hometown beach and that is the sea I swam in as a small child. The wind here carries my mother's voice and her sweet kisses. I stand still, face to the breeze and soak it all in. No technology, no gimmicks, just nature...
In the plaza the pigeons outnumber the red paving slabs. Just to walk from the tall terraced houses around the edges with their stores at ground level I must take small steps to avoid kicking them. These birds have no fear of me, I'm more scared they'll foul up the Italian leather shoes I bought only last week at Darcy's. A few minutes later my efforts are rewarded by being able to sit on the edge of the octagonal pool that surrounds the fountain, water spraying many feet into the dry summer air from the lips of a busty mermaid. The droplets arc high before cascading down at the will of gravity. I dig in my satchel for the baguette I plan to eat for lunch and the mass of grey feathers before me gets so dense you can't see the stone underneath. Between the splashing behind and the squawking in front the sound of the city traffic disappears, and that is why I walk here to eat. Here I can admire the brightly painted old buildings and imagine I am back in my home town. Just for a moment.
This place seems so foreign now. The narrow streets flow like rivers, winding around hills and fields rather than cutting a romanesque line through them. For the most part the lanes are one car wide and the corners blind, obscured behind the hawthorn hedgerow that has been growing unchecked through June and July, giddy with the sunshine and rain. I remember the white blooms and how they are so often over hung by spreading trees, darkening in the sunshine faster than I can tan. I recall the bird song and the gentleness of the sun, even in summer. Even the aroma takes me back to my mis-spent youth. But I've been gone too long and now this is like a half-forgotten dream. The good parts aren't as good as the memory and the bad parts are more frustrating. I'm just not used to it. As much as I want to savour the hear and now I can't wait to board the plane for home; back to straight roads and summer heat that cooks your head.
This street could be any city anywhere. Now that the corporations are global we have the same style buildings in every country. Our STEM education means there are no artists to make our public spaces unique to us, to our culture. The colour scheme is the same for every store. There are no designers since only math and technology counts. So now this place is grey, black and blue. The workers who went to the free schools line the streets in orange coveralls. They are our road sweepers, garbage collectors and factory fodder. The shrinking middle class that is rapidly going under from paying their own medical bills are the low level workers, data entry clerks in cubicle farms and code monkeys. They cram the buses in their blue uniforms that have been the same in many years, no art means no fashion. Then there are the electric self driven cars that ferry the children of the elite to their private schools. It's the class system by another name. The top stay at the top, the poor die young.
Viewed in isolation the patio could be anywhere with its grey stone floor and cafe tables, each with a green sun umbrella. If it were before an Italian vista I could sit for hours, days even, and simply be content. But instead it lies less than two feet from one of the busiest roads in the city. Were I to buy a coffee I wouldn't be enjoying its aroma, but instead the chocking fumes of the traffic that goes by almost without break. This isn't even a quaint city street, compared to my home country it's more of a highway, two lanes in either direction. Under the unbroken cloud this late morning could be the pre-dawn and the street is all the more grey for it. The headache I woke with is thickening like day old stew. The cafe itself looks inviting, on the other side of those doors is warmth and soft jazz, but I have no time to pamper myself today. No money either. The coins that rattle in my pocket are all accounted for: bus fair, lunch and candy from the office vending machine at eleven.
In that place I could be anyone, or perhaps no-one at all. The people flowed like rivers, never stopping for obstacles but swirling around them. On those wide avenues with wilted trees, their leaves curled and blackened in in the August heat, the buildings towered on each side. A hundred years ago I expect it was pretty, the golden light on the sandstone architecture, built in the days when curves and design weren't considered superfluous. Even the street-lamps were dreamt by an artist, built by an engineer following the teachings of a scientist. On days like this, crammed in with more bodies than I could count even in a photograph, I tilt my head to the sky. The empty blue gives me the strength just to walk at the pace of the crowd and bottle my claustrophobia inside my chest.
The cobblestones are wet with the night's rain and made slippery by the wintry temperature, casting the water film into ice. Edward's worn shoes slip and bend, were there any sharp edges he'd feel them though his thinning grey socks but these over-sized pebbles were pounded smooth by the Atlantic ocean long ago. The road is one carriage wide with slim pavements at the edge. As always he takes his chances with the traffic, walking in the middle of the street; a better choice he feels than receiving a bucket of sewage or bath-water from an upstairs window. The crocked houses that are build without gaps, save the odd alley to the long gardens behind. The homes are either redbrick with bare ivy tendrils reaching the rooftops or the tudor style, white with dark beams. He no longer notices the stench, or the sea air that mingles with it. He has no thoughts for yesterday or tomorrow. He only knows that he must reach his employer by dawn or his family won't eat today.