There is a transitional time that finds Winter ceding its grayness to the boundless bright blue of Spring. Though the air may still be cold the buds upon trees still struggle forth as if observing a celestial timetable in spite of all obstacles. While one is dissuaded from jaunts outside until this time, the brightness of cheerful Sunlight beckons one to reintroduce themselves once again to a world without a roof. And the necessity of short walks extends one’s route to include a wider field of travel. One one of these sorts of days, I happened by a lesser used route of former acquaintance from a time long past.
A small shopping strip mall that had cropped up adjacent to the high rise where my family had come to spend the better part of their natural lives as condominium residents running a small advertising concern from a spare room that I now inhabited. The same old vacancy stood empty on its furthest edge but to my surprise the rest of the spaces which had housed the same businesses for the last twenty-five years was now bereft one more tenant. A small little shop next to a nook where the Chinese restaurant extended forward a bit. A place where an odd couple had until sometime recently sold recycled lenses and frames at a cut rate unit price. The two were a funny sort with one eccentricity piled upon another. Their unconventionality seemed to break every custom with an almost awkward innocent charm. I guess I remember them most for their purchase of four wrought iron chairs that I had stewarded from the earlier days of my childhood. Family heirlooms that my late father had in his own quirky method of frugality spent a fair sum of money to have recovered long after their actual street value had plummeted to an amount that the cost of the rehab dwarfed many times over. Never being as respectful of the hard won worth of possessions I had allowed them to be sold to the old couple for a song. And many times in the past since when I had past by, I would look into the window at the four of them and consider how at some point I would allot some money towards their repurchase.
As I further recalled, looking across the shadowy emptiness of that expanse of bare floor across to the back where an old heavy wooden desk sits adjacent to a cheap chrome and plastic office chair. This shop had also been the last customer of our family company which had atrophied over the last fifteen years from its zenith as my father’s most successful business enterprise. The culmination of my father’s life’s work as a salesman. One that had started many years past in another time and era when he was barely seven years old. He had hawked magazines door to door of any place that didn’t kick him out. Bars, factories, small corner businesses and on the street, all these places he found out the hard way how to win over tough customers with the right words and earn a buck. How he ended up with no apparent heir to his life’s work came down to the indifference I held for what was to me a stultifyingly boring and mundane profession that offered my own ambitions naught but oblivion.
He had, like most new parents of humble backgrounds, provided too much, and expected even more from his son. His wishes in this regard, translating into the chronic application of misdirected efforts always bound to fall short by his offspring in always trying to achieve at an even greater level of success than was possible. The fundamental difference between them was, of course, that my father was an extrovert who loved to be with people. While I tended toward a more exclusive perspective as the opposite. The conundrum of our differences was never put to rest by either of us and saw a large divide from that point onward. Even the approach of his passing could not seem to heal. The unexpected emptiness of that storefront brought home a penetrating sense of vacancy within my own heart of all that once seemed interminably endless but that I would now be bereft of forever. The mysterious fate of those damn chairs would now haunting me as much as my inability to find any further physical embodiment of the lost spirit of my father amidst these surroundings where he once was a part of an all too familiar world. The sadness of that little abandoned shop under the approach of the beauty of Spring making me realize, how much I really missed him.