Friday, January 15, 2010

365/14 Walk the Line

365/14 Walk the Line

“You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way.”

Johnny Cash

The man in black. He's one of my favorite musical artists. I don't quite remember when I first began my journey with him. I know it was some time after high school and well into my few college years before I picked up my first album. Well, it wasn't really an album ... a collection of hits is what it was. But it was enough to drag me into his music. The more I listened to him, the more I became enamored with his sense of style and grit.

Now, I'm not going to say something silly like "Johnny and I have so much in common". That just ain't true. But, I think, like any artist, we've both had our struggles to find our own way. I'm still figuring mine out. It's like sitting in a desert with a broken compass and worn out old map that's missing it's rose. The tools might not be great, but if you can figure out the quirks under which they come alive, you can pick a direction and get where you want to go.

Tonight, I was picking up a friend for dinner. She works downtown in one of the glass monoliths that dot the Austin skyline. It's $27 a day to park in the garage associated with the building. Highway robbery, I say. She made that mistake once, so now it's generally a bus each way. But tonight, I would be the pack mule and get us where we needed to go.

This building has always been a curiosity for me. Well, more-so the alleyway that goes right through it's center. There's not much space in it. Cars zip on through faster than they ought to. It's dark and dank, striped with yellow paint where you're supposed to park; most people seem to ignore it, turning this into a one-way rocket chute as people zip in one side looking for their passengers and zip out the other to circle back around the block.

Most of the people that come out of this building are dressed in business attire. Power suits, black and pressed. Maybe a tie that strikes a subtle, but fashionable chord. They'll walk up and down this alley trying to escape the building for another day. Me? I park illegally for a moment when I'm here because I don't like circling. I haven't had to deal with security yet, but I expect I will at some point.

It's an interesting vantage point for watching people come and go. Often, they don't notice you. Sometimes, you'll catch one peering right into the windshield. I've had one notice the camera. No smiles, though.

I'm not sure what kind of lighting is filling this channel: sodium vapor, metal halide, fluorescent. Sort of an ugly color, really. Yellowish-orange. Not quite tungsten. It's a sickening color. What caught my eye tonight, though, was the cool blue-white wash of light at the end of the tunnel coming from whatever lamp was sitting across the street. There wasn't much, if any, spill of this light into the tunnel. It was just too far away. But, I liked how the tunnel became this picture frame for the light just outside in the street. An odd-shaped and overly large frame, but a frame nonetheless.

I didn't really pay any notice to the ceiling until now. A black abyss, much like the obelisk in 2001. Makes you want to go poke it and see if the man in black emerges in the reflection to stare back at you.

In the meantime, I sit in the car with my broken compass and fragile map, trying to figure out what direction to go. Limitations say I need to go forward, just like every other gasoline consumer in here. But something makes me wonder, if I did it my way, what would happen if I want back?

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