*** ‘Vignette City’ is an ongoing project of daily writing and urban photography ***
I’ve been reading this book about Soviet bus stops. It’s called Soviet Bus Stops. In the foreword the guys writes, “If we are to judge by the architectural archaeology of its final years, the very name Soviet Union seems to have been more an expression of hope than a reflection of actuality.”
I picked the book up at the library because it was one of the “recommended books” on that shelf over by the case with the pygmy heads in it, and I always look at that self because sometimes Lorraine has recomendations up there and this was one of hers, so I snatched it and checked it out real quick because she was not working the desk just then because I had seen her heel disappear around a corner on the third floor just a few minutes ago. It was easy to notice because she has that humming bird tattoo on the inside of her left ankle and so that is what I saw; that little green and gold birds and its flesh horizon disappear into the stacks with the speed of her step.
The foreword guy also writes, “Rigid aesthetic control is supposed to be totalitarian staple, a condition of tyrannies. It is notable by its absence. If it was exercised then, it was with marked laxity.”
The bus stop book is mostly photos. And I get what the guy means about ‘laxity’. These bus stops were crazy. In Gudauta there’s a crazy bus stop shaped like a giant tiled half-open clamshell. People don’t even like to stand in it because it looks like it’s about to snap closed.
In Aralsk, Kazakhstan there’s a bus stop that looks like a tiny mosque, with a minaret and everything. It is all by itself on a flat brown desert plane and it reminded me of all those pictures of the Aral Sea, drained and with old fishing boats just sitting dry in the desert. I saw a photo one time of a camel killing time relaxing in the shadow of a tilting freighter in a desert that used to be an ocean.
Lorraine only has her daughter on the weekends and I heard her saying earlier that she took Sasha down to the riverfront park last weekend, because the weather was so nice, but then there was a dragon alert and so they had to rush to one of the shelters and so they ended up having their little picnic sixty feet below the street, but Sash had liked it just the same.
And I wonder if Lorraine is one of those girls who got a dragon tattoo back when that was the things for girls to do. Maybe on her back, with its wings unfurling up toward her shoulders.
The guy who went around taking all the pictures of the bus stops wrote a little explanation and in it he said, “What made it truly exciting was the fact that I never had a clue what I would find or what would happen next.”
Lorraine is the kind of girl who I would be very happy to know now, but who had a prime and her prime was probably ten years ago when she was tight and tone and bright with that youth that emo girls always hate when they have it. They burn through it so fast because they fuck bad guys and love awful people and it really takes a toll on them and it make me so sad because I know how many of them - I count count them, but I already know the number is four, I have wasted some much time and kindness on - that I have loved. Loved so much, I have so much love and I am probably just too honest with it. I’m not too afraid to say, “I love you Jocelyn” or “I love you Deidre” or “I love you Clarissa” or “I love you Bianca”, but none of them were in the right place then to understand how much love I had for them.
But Lorraine might be. She is older now, has grown out of that rebellious phase now. She has a kid now and probably has had the stunning realization that the good guys like me are the kind of guys who will be good for her.
The guy who took all the bus stop pictures wrote, “Most taxi drivers were confused as to why I would be interested in the old bus stops and would speed past them as if they were invisible.”
I think about that some as I flip through the book. I look at the bus stop in Balykchy, Kyrgyzstan that looks like Genghis Khan’s hat and I know that’s because of the history of the place and about hordes and warlords and about bad stuff that has happened, but now everything is okay, so they can just make a bus stop out of it. Like everybody has gotten past all that, so it’s not a big deal anymore. I even close my eyes and I think about waiting there for a bus with Lorraine and Sasha, and they’re both wearing billowy dresses and I’m wearing a wool three-piece suit like men always used to wear in all the old pictures I have ever seen and we have a couple of suitcases with us and I even think about it in black and white because that’s what the photo would have looked like back then. We are waiting there and maybe I am standing and looking out for the bus and my arm is stretched behind me because Lorraine and I are holding hands, even though we are already so close and we are about to set off on a whole new life together, we are still holdings hands just because we love each other that much.