In 1997 my friend Renee was part of a juried student art show held in a crumbling office suite in the Lafayette Building in downtown Detroit.
I went with a boy I was dating at the time. He had the bluest eyes I have ever seen. I wore a black pencil skirt I bought at Showtime, a black sweater set, my hot pink velvet coat that my grandma bought me a dollar jumble sale, and bright red lipstick. I still wore my hair red back then.
Renee’s installation was a giant wreath, about 6X6 feet, made from vines we pulled down from my back yard in Port Huron. We loaded them into the back of her big red van (Clifford) and drove them back to our house in Hamtramck where she burned poetry into the vines and turned them into that giant wreath. The wreath was positioned around a pile of ashes and bones on the floor.
She took a Polaroid of the blue eyed boy and I when we got there. I still have it tucked at the back of a photo album. We are leaning into each other and smiling. Even though we only dated for a little while, it’s still a picture I like a lot, it reminds me of a very specific time and place in my life. I don’t look at it like I look at other similar pictures and regret anything, I just remember being very happy and that everything felt open and bright.
Edited to Add: I found the Polaroid tonight. I blocked out his eyes, we aren’t in contact anymore, don’t know how he’d feel about being on my blog 12 years after the fact. Apologies for the poor quality but my scanner isn’t working at the moment so it’s a picture of a picture. I forgot that he wore a tie.
After we looked at all the art, we wandered around the building, up empty stairwells, down abandoned hallways, looking down into the courtyards that were overgrown and disused. A beautiful and sad prowl through a doomed building.
It snowed that night. I remember pulling my pink coat tight and looking at the snow.
According to Wikipedia demolition started last month. It’s not surprising. Not even a little bit. But that doesn’t make it any less sad. Well, not to me anyhow.