Bye-bye Bob, bye-bye baby, hey hey Mama.

I like meandering down back alleys on my afternoon walks around the neighborhood. It’s interesting to see what lives on the flip side of all the reasonably presentable, generic facades the average street has to offer.

Old furniture is a staple finding. Grandma’s retro kitchen chairs upholstered in orange floral vinyl; chipped and dented and otherwise abused IKEA “Lack” coffee tables; mattresses with “FREE” signs duct taped to them. As if anyone in their right mind would touch a back alley mattress with a ten foot pole.

Graffiti, too, can be entertaining despite its general lack of finesse. I’m always on the lookout for the handiwork of two taggers calling themselves John and Joan Cusack. I like to think that the real John and Joan Cusack are behind it, sneaking around my city in the dead of night whispering, “Who’d ever believe it?” and snickering together as they pen their permanent marker scrawls.

But it’s the items that were never again intended to see the light of day that interest me most. The thrown away tokens and mementos that spill from poorly tied bags on collection day and either float or crash back down to earth, naked and exposed for anyone to find.

“To Do” lists. Love letters. Hate letters. Broken trinkets. Children’s drawings, likely surreptitiously “misplaced” one by one off an overflowing fridge. Novelty Post-its scribbled with illegible text. Toy soldiers with missing limbs; Barbies with crookedly shorn hair.

A Valentine from Bob, who appears to be a man of few words.

The portrait of an angel, discarded amongst office supplies and unopened moist towelettes for reasons I will never know.

I spot and I examine and I wonder. Glimpses of all these lives and stories that may never truly intersect with mine but which I will carry in my memory and imagination nonetheless, in pocket-sized pieces.

I leave with more questions than answers.

Two blocks later, I find something deemed worth keeping.

I smile. And I walk on.

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6 thoughts on “Bye-bye Bob, bye-bye baby, hey hey Mama.

  1. Wonder what happened to Bob and his Valentine. The discarded card does not imply success – or does it? The detritus from people’s lives is fascinating and, as you have shown here, is art in its own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was wondering the same thing. Our mystery recipient did hold onto it for nine months, so I figure either the relationship ended recently or else Jane/John Doe just isn’t the type to hang onto these things forever and figured 3/4 of a year was long enough for a $5 piece of cardstock to be cluttering up their home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I pick up pennies. That’s partly because small change really does add up, but also I cling to that childhood belief that finding a penny brings good luck. And as with all coins I wonder whose hands each one passed through before me. It’s only a penny but it makes me feel connected to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the same way. And now that we’ve phased out the penny in Canada it feels even luckier to find one.
      Of course, I’m nothing if not an opportunist, so I’ve also begun considering found nickels lucky because they’re now our smallest denomination of circulating currency and are therefore pennies at heart.

      Like

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