air and water
So much I could say about South Bend might sound like a lament. I was advised to seek out unconventional beauty to get through my stint in the Midwest– this one-story, unlovely straw-colored land of mediocrity. Mediocre, that is, in every area save work ethic…which…is unlovely. I find I seek out unconventional beauty without being advised, and did so all the more vigilantly this past winter, thinking it would help me not to despair. But I found instead that it is hardly a cure for depression. In fact, it sometimes heightens melancholy. Nevertheless, the above image is the sort of thing I find beautiful here and I spent my winter looking for it relentlessly, relentlessly, out of car windows dotted with moisture. Mostly: things made of metal or cement, wearing old paint that has rusted or run into nice colors, created accidentally out of air and water working its cure upon the Midwestern workday, which, if not for what weather could do to it, would be the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I am not at all depressed anymore (for anyone concerned) but I now find that my vigilant search for Midwest beauty was so thorough, so effective, and so closely bound up with a season of sadness, that now images like the one above act as potent reminders of the two solid months of gloom I sat under helplessly. It works the way smells work when they evoke memories. I suppose beauty, whether conventional or not, can sometimes work against you when you assign to it sad associations.