Friday, July 25
There's this spectacular rainbow across the horizon of Louisville, or at any rate what I think of as its horizon: The rooftop of the profoundly mediocre Safeway and its assorted strip-mall satellite businesses, behind which my (merely) generically mediocre apartment complex lurks. It's one of the better rainbows I've seen in this state.
I am not exactly a connoisseur of rainbows, but they still strike me as events, you know? Not that they appear to have any particular significance in the scheme of things, just that (even if they are Nature's Most Clichéd Meteorological Phenomena) there's something aesthetically singular about a rainbow and the conditions that give rise to it: Here is something radiantly chaotic which has briefly arranged itself to produce something radiantly ordered and transparent in its geometrical purity.
Rainbows are supposed to symbolize hope and several of its close cousins, along with (or maybe, culturally, because of) the idea of the faithfulness and reliability of a God who narrative-wise had just finished destroying pretty much every land-dwelling organism on the fucking planet.
Hope, if you think about it, is frequently an agonizing subjective experience, and can be among the ugliest & most pitiful of all emotional states to observe in someone else. I suspect our culture valorizes it because having hope will keep you alive even as it kills you slowly, and historically this must have kept a lot of people going long enough to breed, or at least long enough to produce cultural artefacts which would propagate their attitudes.
Anyway, I'm standing out in the strip of back-door parking lot behind the Safeway, the liquor store, and the laundromat which was my original motivation for leaving the apartment. I'm holding a small jug of Tide, and this rainbow is fading out, so I kind of start poking around the strip of trees and weeds around a narrow concrete drainage ditch that seems to mark the formal and psychological boundary between indifferent commerce and indifferent apartment living. There're at least ten minutes to go on my last load of laundry, and it seems ridiculous to go all the way back to my apartment, just as it seems ridiculous to stand around watching my rented washing machine do its business. Besides, I'm sort of curious if I can find any evidence that (as I halfway suspect) destitute homeless alcoholics in their mid-40s or the somewhat desolately drugged-up children of middle-class Louisville have been grubbing around in the bushes here. I keep hearing shuffling noises outside my window at night, you see.
And naturally, as I am standing at the edge of the vegetation and scattered litter, trying to figure out which "garden level" window is mine, reflecting that I have probably just been hearing raccoons or something, I look up and notice that there is a light on in someone's apartment, and that there is a woman looking out of this window, wearing glasses, and that we are (god damn it) sort of making eye contact, which probably means that a female resident of this apartment complex has mentally filed me as some random creepy asshole who goes around snooping in people's bedroom windows.
I break off eye-contact and meander away, trying mightily to appear as though I have some vague but legitimate and completely non-creepy reason to be shuffling around at the edge of the deserted asphalt peering at apartment windows. I am completely certain that this has the effect of making me look really suspicious, if anyone is actually watching.