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Best just to imagine

I nearly said “wall,” I swear. I wanted to say “wall” and truth be told, I still do, in a way. “Fence” is maybe the right word here and I know this, but when one cannot see through, what then? O, to have reached this age without knowing the difference between a fence and a wall!

It’s the other side that concerns me anyway. Of this fence, I mean. This wall.

On my walks, it bows out and across the sidewalk almost. I cannot see through it. It’s twelve feet tall so I cannot see over it. It is wicked. It is tempting. It is wicked and tempting.

Bamboos peer out over the edge of it, the top – you should see them peer! – along with preternatural light and there’s something about the way sound carries. “Preternatural.” I chose that word, instinctively, just now, without a care, and I’m really having second thoughts about it. I’ll leave it.

What’s on the other side of this wall?

I checked it out on Google Earth and I was not satisfied. There’s just a feeling I get. It’s a mystery and I’ve got to know.

When I was a kid, thick-headed as I was, I saw high school boys wearing their Metallica t-shirts and their Iron Maiden t-shirts and their Pink Floyd t-shirts, and I knew those were bands but I wondered what they sounded like. I had no way of hearing them, you see. It was a mystery and so I’d lie in my bed and imagine how a band with a t-shirt like an Iron Maiden t-shirt might sound.

And I was wrong. Wrong every time. Eventually, I heard Metallica and I heard Iron Maiden and I heard Pink Floyd and I was wrong. They sounded nothing like the sounds which I’d imagined in my bed and to be perfectly honest with you, the mystery was better, I believe, or often better, there’s Pink Floyd sometimes but for the most part.

I’m doing it again, I know, with this wall. This fence or this wall, whatever. There’s nothing on the other side. Just a yard. There’s no semi-organic statue gods or exotic-looking women, alien flora or enlightenment-inducing stain glass windows there.

I need to stop trying to peer through this fence because the mystery is better and there are so few good mysteries left in this world so leave it be, Harry. Leave it be.

You want a mystery for solving? Solve what’s the difference between a wall and a fence, anyway.

Comments

  1. I think if you can't see over a solid fence, then at that point it becomes a wall. And anything behind a wall is usually bad news.

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    1. I've never given it much thought before, but googling it, apparently the difference has some serious legal consequences. There are a lot of lawsuits involving HOA's that involve what constitutes a fence vs. a wall.

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  2. One of the favorite suburbanite things is to have a privacy fence built around a backyard. It's almost a wall in that if you are standing still you can't really see anything on the other side.

    What I find fascinating though is the number of people who don't realize that if you drive by such a fence at a reasonable speed the small vertical spaces between the planks of the fence allow almost an unobstructed view of the other side.

    I've been told numerous suburbanites have been seen doing stuff that shouldn't happen in backyards because they didn't know about that flaw.

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    1. After I wrote this, I went back to the house in question to have a look at that fence wall thing. It appears there are TWO back to back fences, one with vertical slats and one with horizontal, thereby protecting the backyard from your giant loophole.

      Sadly, perhaps, I don't have anything I do in my back yard that others can't see.

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    2. Damn suburbanites! There goes my chance of casually driving by a privacy fence and seeing some hot lady of the house sunbathing naked.

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  3. And so it continues to hold true that fantasy is better than reality. What are we even still doing here? We should be going out and building walls to hide behind ourselves.

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    1. I'm a bit of an escapist.

      OK, I'm a lot of an escapist. I'd rather live in my head, generally. I don't recommend it for anyone.

      In the words of an old Robyn Hitchcock song: "The spoiled baby grows into / The escapist teenager who's / The adult alcoholic who's / The middle-aged suicide / Oi! / Uncorrected personality traits that / Seem whimsical in a child can / Prove to be ugly in / A fully grown adult."

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  4. Don't look Harry...don't look. As long as you don't look there could be anything over there...magic.

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    1. Lots of good writers have made entire careers about seeking the unattainable. So I might be able to just write from now on about what I think might be in that back yard!

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  5. Pink Floyd? Did you hear about Nick Mason's new band "Nick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets"? They're going to concentrate on performing pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd music.

    The difference between walls and fences is simple: Walls are never quite thick enough to keep the sound of the drums inside, and fences are what people sit on while insisting that both sides are equally to blame.

    Those Robyn Hitchcock lyrics remind me of my friend Jack wondering whether we were being child-like or just childish...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I did not hear about Mason's project. He had fewer side gigs than the others. There might have been a couple solo projects when the band was falling apart around Waters' departure, but that's it, up until now.

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  6. The lyrics from Bob Dylan's "License to Kill" came to mind when I read this blog. Specifically, the lines.."Oh, Man has invented his doom/First step was touching the Moon." I always thought that those were curious lines and not sure what they meant. But now I do, thanks to insight from your blog. The Moon used to be a place of mystery, of wonder and imagination, of romance... until Man crossed the wall or the fence, went there, took photos, and described it as a place of lifeless rock, a place that wasn't green cheese, and a place without romance. (Although it must be said that scientific exploration of the Moon has opened up other mysteries, other fences, but it has dispelled the romantic mysteries of the past). So thank you for taking me to another side of a fence without really trying!

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    1. I'm the king of accidentally-making-people-think. U agree, though: There are plenty of mysteries left, but the stuff I thought were mysteries when I was a kid aren't anymore, for the most part, and the stuff that was revealed isn't as good as I'd hoped.

      But still... plenty of mysteries...

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    1. Someone up top here said something about your ability to see through it, and I think that's what I go by without realizing it. When I can't see through it at all, I tend to think of it as a wall.

      There's got to be a difference. The US has a border fence, and it's not a political issue. but a border WALL?

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  8. I thought a wall was made of concrete or stone and a fence, wood? Or are you talking in more symbolic terms?

    If P Diddy lived behind that wall you'd have exotic-looking women. Actually, after hearing recent rumours, maybe it would be exotic-looking men. Either way, you're not invited. :D

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    1. Haha. Not symbolic. I don't know. I'll have to research it some more.

      But hey, on the very same street with the wall, I had some really old guy slow down last week and ask me, "You hungry, son?" which, in my neighborhood, means he thought I was a hustler.

      Which probably also means the old guy had never done this before and wasn't very good at it, because... well, I don't fit the part. But I was nice about it and said, "You've got the wrong guy, man."

      My point is that maybe I can still get in with the exotic looking men, if I want, depending on how late at night it is.

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  9. Curiosity is a great companion. It keeps us thinking. Feeding curiosity is great, if our reason for letting her devour our restraint is not just her own hunger. However, if our minds are dying for nourishment, we best climb that wall. Not jump, but climb it safely, take a peek, see if there is anything worth a full jump...

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    1. It's a balancing act. Some mysteries are better off as mysteries and some aren't. If it's a Muse, then I'll leave it as a mystery... for as long as I can!

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  10. Don't let fear hold you back, if you must look, take a look, go for it! But, it could be a pandora's box behind that fence! But, it could also be a field of dreams!

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    1. I suppose so... and if it's a disappointment (which it will be, since I'm imagining landscapes like in the picture behind that fence), there's always the NEXT yard.

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  11. A mystery is useful if it doesn't drive you mad. My post the other day about why it's more common to say, "One hell of a ---" vs. "One heaven of a ---" is a mystery to me. Yeah, probably a dull mystery but it did generate a post.

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    1. I believe it's our sharp, probing minds that keep us asking the kinds of questions that bring a dozen people or more coming to our blogs.

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  12. You need to trust your instincts and leave it as a mystery but I know how hard that can be. I have investigated many mysteries in the past and the truth always disappoints. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

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    1. As someone who enjoys writing a lot, I have to think that just imagining what might be back there is the more creatively fruitful route. But what if it's my long-deceased grandfather back there, alive and waiting for me and enjoying a drink?

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  13. What if something lives in the fence? The fence itself is a living presence? Growing from a patch of earth that has secrets?
    (This is why I don't get bored by living in the country and walking unpopulated lanes. )

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    1. Through blind luck and evolution, a dark presence has learned to grow fence-like things around itself to keep out the dominant species on the planet?

      I think that might be right.

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  14. I wonder if people in East Berlin thought the same about the wall to West Berlin. The government always told them it was for their protection, but really the government was afraid what would happen if the people of East Berlin would find out what was happening beyond that wall in West Berlin. So I'd say, check out that wall. Unless, of course, it's a wall to a prison. So do some checking before you check.

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    1. I'll bet there was some of that. Speculation as to what was going on on the other side, I mean. Granted, it might have been speculation colored by all the negative propaganda both sides came up with, but still...

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  15. Great article..I am looking so forward to your blogcomment and
    I love your page on your post.. That is so pretty..
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    1. Thanks. It's chock full of useful information, I hope.

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  16. A fence feels more translucent. :) I am a fan of mystery and Pink Floyd! The artwork is beautiful. ~ Jess

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    1. That seems to be the general consensus on fences, I think. I've learned something from the comments to this post!

      I like the artwork and Pink Floyd because I like stuff that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.

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  17. Ah, but what's a mystery for if not for the joy of solving (or at least attempted solving)? And who knows. Maybe there IS an esoteric jade garden on the other side.

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    1. Hi, BrightenedBoy!

      Looking back at this post and the comments a couple weeks after I posted, it does seem like I am advocating pointless escapism over the challenge of discovering what's out there.

      Stay tuned...

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