The piece below, despite its title, was inspired by two different events, a visit to the car wash and a visit to pay my respects when one of the replicas of the Vietnam Wall was brought to my city.
When I was in high school I took one year of Spanish. Almost all of what I may have learned has disappeared from my memory. I can count to five, know hacienda means house. Beyond that, not much. I’d like to learn more of that language, but doubt I’ll ever devote sufficient time to do it. So I suppose it is not a strong desire.
This musing about language was brought to mind by a note I’d written a while back while at the local car wash. I watched the conveyor belt pull my car through the long, flapping strips of material and streams of liquid soap and water. The strips bounced up, down and sideways, then slowly, sensuously dragged across the top of my car as it moved along. What are those strips made of anyway? Canvas? Felt? Surely it would have to be a special kind of felt. Whatever they are, my car seemed to be meekly surrendering to their ministrations. To be saying, I need to be clean, wash the pollen from my windows, dirt from my wheels, bird droppings from my roof. Fanciful thoughts, but we humans are prone to such about the inanimate things we care about.
I dubbed the incessantly moving car wash strips ‘dancing ladies’ because they reminded me a little of a flower I’ve seen. The plant has a long, twelve or more inches, almost bare stem topped with lovely, spherical blooms which dance constantly in the smallest breeze. Though also inanimate in the sense that they do not consciously dance, as far as we know, they project a sense of happiness in the mere act of movement. Much as talented human dancers do in a ballet or musical production.
I think many things we encounter in daily life ‘speak’ to us in a language our subconscious may understand but can’t interpret for us. I recall when a replica of the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Wall was brought to Kingsport. I thought it was my fancy that there was a heavy quietness around that wall. But since then I’ve read that others feel it, too. Spirits of those mostly young souls, or our own sorrowing spirit? I prefer the latter, and that the brave ones are in a better place.