Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Leave it better...

Scratched into the black fibres of the Celotex there was the message, apparently intended for me, but written about 16 years before: "To anyone who reads this Fuck You." I had only been in the house for 2 weeks. We decided that the rough-hewn plywood-style siding was in too poor of repair to make it through the rainy season and winter. As soon as we had removed the way-too-light, de-laminated siding there was this message. I can only assume it was written by some contractor/carpenter/laborer that bore all malice. At the time it was written, I was only seven years old. My father carefully scratched out the message and proceeded to staple house wrap and tar paper over the old wall material. It became a grim day.

Is that the best that an average human can hope for? To insult someone or disappoint them 16 years or later in the future? What provoked the ire? Did this person feel badly towards the entire building or was it this perception that their life's work was unimportant? One day the siding,even the house would be repaired or replaced, so evidence of his existence would be gone. I kinda regard litter like this. People feel the need to make a mark; that the world is to do with as they please, but just can't muster the courage to do something difficult or helpful.

What of the vibe of the house? I always suggested that there was something not quite right about the place. The Wa or whatever it is called in Feng Shui custom was off for a long time. Were there other talismen of malice hiding about the place? When we renovated the entire structure approximately 5 years later it did seem to be a lighter, happier place.

When my fathers last major home construction is dismantled or gutted for renovation, decades from now the workers will find a different kind of message. As a 10-year-old I ran around the framed place playing a treasure hunt game where we wrote on the 2x4s, 2x6s and 2x8s of the interior walls with pencil: go ten to the left and 13 to the right. If you followed the studs to this location you would find the next instruction. At the end of this you would find a joke or illustration or other treasure, like conduit slugs (kid play money). I think there may also be a hundred different places that a child's writing will say "Ruth was here," "Kristie was here," or some other name of a friend. Hopefully someone will be amused and have a better day for finding them.

I plan to do any of my best works anonymously and leave the world quietly. If I end up leaving any mark, may it not ruin someone's day.