A Sense of Place

May 21 2013

Hi there,

If we've met before, hi again.

My name is Anthony Albright and I am lost. In that, my hobby is drifting — across places, across people, across ideas. I enjoy finding myself surprised and delighted by the energy of the city street, which finds its own uses for things.

If you were at Nicole He's Listserve Internet Picnic in Prospect Park last August, you might remember me as the fifteen-year-old from San Diego. If we got to chatting — or if we ever have, for that matter — I've probably told you that my greatest fascination is with airport wayfinding signage.

Wayfinding signage represents for me an intermodality that I understand as a cognizance of the nuances that distinguish for us between platforms and cast a sense of place. This intermodality is some kind of fully lucid weave through fleeting moments of interstitial space.

It is a consciousness that I have come to understand as a constant process of at once being completely awash in the present and being a complete reflection of everything from there to now.

It is a hasty jog across the metro station platform, as a transfer is made from one arriving train to the next departing one. It is the intuitive dance of starting to dismount from your bicycle as it is still decelerating, so that as it comes to a full stop, you find it at your side. It is a foray into the crosswalk on a brisk afternoon. As your hands dig into your coat pockets, your head falls into a low nod as you lean your leading foot off the curb. You are compelled onto the street and into a future that becomes the very moment.

To characterize this consciousness of being lost in the city, I think immediately of a prose poem written by Charles Baudelaire, stumbled upon during a long trip taken to my city's central library a few weeks ago.

…'O night! O refreshing darkness! For me you are the signal of an inner festival, you are deliverance from anguish. In the solitude of the plain [...], the blaze of streetlights, you are the fireworks of the goddess Liberty.'

It is now 1:24 a.m. on Sunday, May 19th, 2013. I gaze at the soft red luminescence of the late-night MTS trolley car and I hear the distant sputter of the viscera that is the city at this hour.

This multi-sensory post-midnight glow that San Diego is bathed in, I am awash in it. And it is most beautiful.

I find myself now in tenth grade, but that does not mean that I am not an unschooler at heart. This means that I allow myself to be awash in everything. It entails frequent trips to San Diego's Lindbergh Field. I visit not to travel, but to take in the experience of movement. It entails getting lost in people too. For the very first time last month, I found myself in the position of being chastised by my high school for engaging in a very public display of affection. I have never felt more complete.

Reader, write me an email. We're both so very real. Let's relish in that. Let's start something. Maybe we can partake in some shared meaningfulness. Maybe we can mesh our personal networks of dots into something completely unlike anything else.

I don't know. I really don't know. But I can tell you that I will do my very best.

Oh, and thank you, everyone at the Internet Picnic, for a most wonderful afternoon.

Anthony Albright
San Diego, California
[email protected]

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