Miniburger to go: A view from a condo

June 3, 2009

The old man was taller than I, maybe 6’4”, lanky and craggy, with a shaved head and bushy eyebrows. I was there to interview him for the newspaper.

He wanted to go across the parking lot to the community room at his retirement center, but first he wanted to show me something.

“Look at the view I have,” he said, proudly, with his thick Philly accent. “I love to come out here and watch the birds.”

The little second-floor deck was about four feet deep and maybe eight feet wide. He pointed out his two tomato plants growing just under and to the side of his deck. He didn’t know what kind of tomatoes, he said with a little asperity when I asked. They’re just tomatoes.

“Look at that,” he said, happily, sweeping his arm along the horizon.

In the immediate distance, in all the directions I could see, stretched condos and houses, all in a buttery beige shade of vinyl siding. He had boasted about the view. But I live in the boonies, where I can see wildlife right out the bedroom window. To me, his ‘view” seemed a jumbled suburban mess.

But he didn’t seem to see that. He saw the mountains far beyond, far past the rooflines of the VA hospital, and over to Fort Indiantown Gap. Beyond the rooflines, against the blue-gray of the mountains, flocks of geese stood out in silhouette.

“See? There,” he said, rapt.

I don’t think he even noticed all that clutter in the middle ground, all that mess that was all I let myself see, until he pointed out what I wouldn’t let myself observe.

We left his place and did our interview. I had learned a lot about energy conservation, the topic of the story. I also learned a little bit about knowing how to look.
© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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One Response to “Miniburger to go: A view from a condo”

  1. Claire said

    I live 6 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. We never go to the beach we are not sun people. But every year we rent a condo for a week. I like the man you interviewed do not see all the high school and college students getting drunk on the beach. We get a room on the 17th floor and are higher than most seagulls fly. But I love to sit on that little balcony in the shade and watch the waves come in and out. We do nothing. But we do nothing at home either, both of us being retired. At sunset when most drunks are sleeping it off we go down to the edge of the water and enjoy the waves and the sound of the water. You see what you want to see when you are enjoying yourself. The old man loved his balcony and his tomatos and saw what he loved.

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