Public Spaces Installment 2: Public Butterflies, Private Airspace

Public Spaces is a personal and creative writing exercise for the remainder of my summer.  Each passage will be written in places accessible to the public; I am attempting to implicitly examine the relationship between style, inspiration, and environment.

This is the second installment.


Rooftop. Chicago.

I was watching a butterfly. Or a bat. From here, I’m not exactly sure what that thing was, fluttering lazily in the air above my head. But if it can fly, I have to wonder why I even care that it is classified or what it’s called. I’m the one that’s classifying from the ground. I cannot fly.

Across four rooftops, a man tearing the shingles off of the old elementary school is technically higher than the butterfly, but I have trouble believing that he is actually higher.

I walked by that old elementary school the other week and looked for the public building notice to figure out why they were tearing the shingles off. It turns out that the man higher than the butterflies is aiding in converting a center of learning to a landmarked center of living. The school was public. The new apartments will not be.

An airplane flies far overhead, far above myself, the butterfly, and the man higher than the butterflies. I wonder if the people who take photos from airplane windows ever talk to each other. I wonder if they shun those who deliberately chose the aisle. Can they see the butterflies from up there? Somehow the sky has become something they can make theirs.

Below me, one of three train lines rumbles past, and an advertisement tells me to free myself. I laughed. Maybe it knows that none of us really can.

And maybe we are just shouting in the void, talking about any of this. But without a shout, would we know the void was there?

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.


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