Monday, February 27, 2012

...for the alley and gutter were mine...

Today I went "alley-hiking." Even though the streets of Mitchell are NOTHING compared to bigger cities I've been too (especially extremely historical ones), I still find myself feeling ten years old when I set out between the backs of two brick buildings. I remember as a teenager reading pieces of Charles Dickens' stories on lazy afternoons. I assume a lot of people seem to connect the idea of Dickens’ stories to a tender-hearted child who escapes from an orphanage, or a grumbling old man who finds the true meaning of contentment and joy through three ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve. However, when I think of C.D. stories, I’m always drawn back to the poverty (I mean REAL poverty) described in such fine and harsh detail; I’m drawn to the slummy, dank factories and dark, eerie alleyways he painted in my mind. These images always seem to hold something new and interesting, even if they weren't lovely. Why is destruction and decay so endlessly beautiful sometimes?

That’s the thing about Dickens. His stories aren’t always necessarily set in a beautiful place, or even a happy place; yet, it's always a place that draws you in. These places makes us want to jump into the pages and pull back that broken down doorway, or rummage through a box full of throwaways. All of the leftovers of life that have been cast behind the buildings they used to reside in are actually clues - or at least part of a story. So much can be understood about the goings-on of inside an establishment by what the alleyway behind it holds. What do the owners get rid of? 

I’ve always found alleys to be intriguing. People forget that there is so much that takes place within these little “hidden” roads. There are animals, stairways, steaming pipes, garbage cans, discarded antiques, discarded crap, people taking smoking breaks....all of this only lit by the small amount of sunlight or starlight that slips through the strip of visible sky view above.

Basically...I kind of have a thing for alleyways.