Flaking paint.

by wheneversomeday

Writing, particularly free associating, is not difficult. I haven’t written anything in well over a week, and I feel terrible about it. I’m aware that my last post was terribly dull; I thought it was maybe because I had nothing overwhelmingly exciting to write about, as my days consisted of staying inside, looking for jobs. But I’ve weathered a flurry of activity in the past week—I still have nothing to say.

But I’ll write anyway. Maybe something great will come from these mindless phrases I write while scanning the woodwork of this coffeeshop. I remember reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was a freshman in high school. I hated the book, but I remember the narrator telling one of his students to start writing. Write about this building in the town of Bozeman, Montana. Write about every single brick in painstaking detail. Don’t stop until you’ve given everything to that brick; after that, move onto the next brick and describe it to its literary death.

I’m still not sure what the point of the whole exercise was, but this guy is making millions of dollars off this self-indulgent philosophy-lite bestseller, or so my more well-read friends like to say. Not that I expect monetary fulfillment from scribbling my every weird thought down on a laptop, but maybe this guy is onto something in that writing about something to death will force new thoughts out, past the choking sieve of our insecurities and self-doubt and into the observable world.

For example, there’s a water pipe extending upwards from the radiator here. My back presses uncomfortably between a corner of brick wall and the end of a bench as I lift my gaze towards the top of the pipe. But the bottom first: the pipe is painted black, like the radiator, until it hits about four-and-a-half feet. There’s almost of foot of forest green paint on top of the black; both are cracked through with jagged white lines that form misshapen squares. The appearance of lumpily coated, peeling paint makes a more extroverted me want to touch the chalky texture, just to see my fingers come away with flecks of brittle…material. I don’t know what paint is made from, I realize.

And then something interesting happens. The green gives way to what looks like wood. I’m not sure if it’s paint or some kind of paper application, but it’s striated, like the grains in the wooden benches here, like the giant support blocks holding the cafe’s roof from crashing in. It extends upward close to seven feet, marred only by a few splashes of off-white pigment, a nod to the wall’s last paint job. But it, too, is peeling at the top, in large strips. Like tree bark shedding. Exactly like it. Underneath, bright mint pops through, and the rest of the pipe above flakes a mildewed cream.

The top of the pipe is routed to another pipe running half the ceiling’s length by an L-shaped connector. The naked ceiling pipe is rusted, and it always will be.

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