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Saturday morning in the PL
This, here, is a nice place
The sun is bright, families wrestle with the poorly designed door to the roof garden. Warm Texas air wafts across the skin as the door opens onto the cool communal lounge.
Some kids run by; loosely tethered squawks of delight. A pair of older couples, one pushing the other along in wheeled chairs; tinkles of conversation. Headed to the inner balcony to marvel down on the six stories of unhurried space.
I'm in a comfy chair looking out across the roof garden onto the 35 stories of sail-shaped, metal and glass of the new Google building. Sitting in the perspective, I feel an emotional twist.
The juxtaposition gets me a little high and I sense the Public Library and the Private Corporation as two hyperobjects. Each concerned with the handling of knowledge. A confusing tension of resource allotment and organizing motivation representing very different arenas of concern. One quaint and local compared to the complicated global concern of the other.
I think about how their interests might be aligned at some level of spirit. Perhaps in the love of the preservation and dispersal of knowledge. Perhaps elsewhere.
A jumpy man, paranoid, intense, takes my picture or pretends to. I notice the act and ask him, smiling, “hey there?”.
He’s not jolly, he’s not my pal.
He says something offputting and sets his bundle on a communal table, stalking, making eye contact. I give him a thumbs up and chuckle. He moves toward me saying, “I don’t need your approval. You’re fake and useless.”
It’s a little hairball of truth and lie. Unnerved, I feel an uncomfortable mix of empathy and martial energy in the space between us. The moment breaks and he wanders off muttering about the CIA and uselessness and surveillance. I check to see if my VPN is on. Boundary maintenance.
A laugh bubbles up from across the room as a huddle of teens share an in-joke. The energy shifts and settles into the comforting low thrum of public complexity.