Friday, October 20, 2017

Spaces I Love: The Shed

I'm doing a new writing project because everything I write about is intense and/or political and/or me dealing with the flaming sphere that is the Earth. Here goes:



The Shed, Meadow Crescent, Sussex Corner, New Brunswick, Canada. 

In the back left hand corner of my mother’s yard, there’s a shed I loved.

The only pic I have.
The shed must have been built a couple years before or into my life. I never remember it not being there.

It started a dog shed. The area was a kennel when it was functioning as intended. There was a perimeter of wire fencing panels around a poured cement slab, and doggie doors were cut into the side of a sturdy purpose-built 4m x 5m structure.

Rather unfortunately, the setting of this memory is also a flood plane. Trout Creek, a tributary to the Kennebecaisis and later Saint John rivers, occasionally swallows chunks of the Meadow Crescent/Cunningham Ave area. The house has been completely surrounded by water more than once.

This shed had the shit kicked out of it. When my parents divorced, and no dogs lived there; it became an unsightly storage shed.

Someone at some point gave my brother and I neon pink spray paint, which ended up in mostly abstract/illegible splashes of color inside and outside the shed. Against the dark wood walls and rotting wood floor, the neon pink was a pleasant contrast.

Aftfer my MA, I landed in Sussex Corner for 10 trying months. The winter was harsh as fuck that year. There was so much shoveling. I baked, and I cleaned, and that’s when I finally started exercising regularly.

So my cleaning impulse was particularly ambitious a set of warm spring days. The space I began with was awful. There was garbage covered in rotting leaves grown over by saplings and weeds. The yard was destroyed by the Winter; whole trees had fallen, and chunks of bark littered the back half of the lawn.

So much sweat and muscle strain went into cleaning up that lawn and shed. I suppress that part of the memory wherever possible.

I was motivated by a clear vision, a cement patio with a bistro set and white lights wraped around the 10-15 year old trees growing up beside the slab. Tbh, if you were looking into the woods and not at all at my mom’s house, it totally would have felt like a shed you’d find in the woods of a Disney tale.

Among the things I hauled out of that nasty corner:  a plastic wagon, turtle shaped flutter board, rusted tonka trucks, ~2 broken windows worth of glass shards, and two of those weird snow brick makers.

The shed hosted a selection of wood panelling that used to hang on the basement walls. Eight or so panels in various states of moisture and decay. But sandwiched between two of these pieces of paneling, I found an antique coca-cola sign, which turned out to be quite valuable.

Structurally, the shed was sound, but large chunks of the floor were rotted through, and a thick layer of moss covered the roof. It didn’t leak, and it offered some privacy and shelter from the wind.  I epoxy’d a window back into place - like a pro.

It smelled earthy - almost a smell I'd call innocent like that rare instance when nature’s on your side. It kept cooler than the house in the height of the summer. Goddamn, New Brunswick has extreme weather.

I emptied it entirely, and I swept until I couldn’t sweep anything else up. The process started with a shovel, box and dust mask, and ended with windex and paper towel. A meager furnishing; a lawn chair, a card table, and more often than not my foam mat, initially for camping but re-purposed for exercise, and a few blankets.

This was my kingdom. I forged it from a wasteland into my favorite space on the property. I made myself an escape from my mother and her regular string of guests. I mostly used/loved the space because I could smoke weed without having to worry if anyone would care. I would load up a show on Netflix or a job posting I was responding to and bring my laptop down to the shed for a couple hours.

I got a little smarter though. The router was in my room at the back of the house. I found a longer coaxial cable and hung the router out my window and the signal was weak, but it made it to the shed! Game-fucking-changer!!

I also had mediocre sex in the shed twice. Couple of super closeted bottom guys off of grindr probably a month apart.

As much as I love weed and sex, the space meant so much more than that. It was a metaphor for survival and grit. It was a project of renewal and re-purposing, and it was a space I loved.

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