I am not really the only one holding up the sky, and it certainly looked ridiculous even to me when I saw that I had been trying. Was I really forgetting that there were plenty of capable, caring people working for the same common good? I'm guessing now that I had merely fallen over the edge into a zone of irrationality, one of those where you can only see that level of mistakeness in everyone else, not yourself. It's fairly common for me to be there, with that blindness that convinces me I am right about that (and pretty much everything else.)
Ah, arrogance. I really did have too many plates to spin and was afraid and unable to drop any of them. I don't fault myself for believing in my powers. I'm glad I didn't proceed with too many decisions during that time, that I was moving too fast to pile up a lot of mistakes on that underlying one. I did some good work and kept up for the most part, which impresses me a little. It was a huge workload and I'm relieved to trade it in for my regular pre-Fair workload, which is mighty. There will still be way too many meetings but there are a lot of other people in those rooms.
I'm still the point person with City staff on the Park Blocks issues, and I like it. It's fun to gain confidence in a new area and find myself capable in new ways. I worry about it of course. My thinking about the whole Park Blocks remodel needed some months to evolve and I have now realized that it would be wrong to stand in opposition to the opportunity to spiff up our home downtown. When they say "permanent home for the Markets" I should hear golden bells of exactly what our shining diamond Saturday Market deserves and will love. I can easily admit I love that photo in the PPS report of the meandering stream with boulders in it and people lounging beside it.
I'd love that. Nobody is going to take my space and not give it back. Maybe I'll even gain back the corner that I give to the fountain and be a real 8x8 someday.
I'm embarrassed and still trepidatious to be a city booster but when I meet with these folks I like them a lot. I see that their intentions, within their job descriptions, really are to honor us and help us thrive. They have been so careful, really, with their own set of trepidations that someone like me will be hurt or damaged by their actions. They are so welcoming to our feedback and very responsive. Of course they are bound by so many restrictions that don't bind me...they are public officials with all kinds of legal boundaries, ethics rules, regulations, laws and the myriad details of each department and its codes. They have to think about everything: who they can be seen having a beer with, what kinds of things they say that might be misinterpreted, what kinds of things they might see as illegal or untoward and have to report to their bosses. I can hardly imagine the kinds of things they worry about late at night. In comparison, I am free as a little old bird.
I have to worry that my fellow members won't like me anymore (those who do) if I lead them down this path and we don't like where we end up. That's about it, really. I suppose my income or retirement "plan" might be compromised if I am involved in some dumb decisions. I might have some arguments or make some enemies in the process, but really I have little to lose and so much to gain.
I think we forget that when we moved into the Park Blocks 32 years ago, we fit ourselves into the existing spaces. If they weren't perfect we warped ourselves to fit them. I've spent years in a spot where I can't use the fourth leg of a popup because I can't put it in the fountain (yes, we used to...). I have to be next to a fountain where some people do gross things in public and sometimes splash my goods in the process. The concrete is uneven and lots of people trip and lose their balance on the cobbles, and the morning sun can be too hot and the afternoons too shady. Each one of us has fit into a space with some limitations and we've made it work. There is no reason to think we can't do this in a new space. There is every reason to think we can do it in a better space!
A lot of us initially thought this was not what we asked for and we felt somewhat resentful that we would have to change what works for us so well. But if we're honest, we can find things that don't really work that well, that could be improved, like access to the interior, access to the raised areas, and amenities we don't have like flush toilets and cool shade coverings and who knows what all?
If we really got to work and designed ourselves the Market of our dreams, I'll bet we could find a few things to change that we'd love. That's our task: not to react in dismay to what gets done to us, but to design for ourselves the spaces we want and the amenities and features we need. We can grab this opportunity and make the most of it, and we'd be shamed if we didn't. If we really opposed this gift to use and made it so hard for the city to do it that they gave up, we'd be doing a disservice to the whole community. The community loves us. It wants this for us too.
Nobody wants us to do anything but polish up our facets and shine all the brighter. Everyone we know wants us to thrive. Sometimes I think so small I wonder how I made it this far. Thinking big is risky, sure, but nothing really great happens if we can't at least be open to hearing from people who think bigger than we can.
So I'm a leader on this, taking on the interface between the city and my people of the market, but it's not something I am doing by myself. I'm listening to everyone, writing down what they say, writing down what we think, and helping to make an articulated plan. Every part of it is open to our thoughts and our visions and our ideas. We don't want to be the limiting factors for our lack of vision, we, who are some of the most creative and innovative people around. We want to add our vision and our great skills to the mix that comes up with the best home imaginable, the best we can all afford, the best we can all achieve together.
It feels like a lifting of a burden, to really accept and embrace this big change in our beloved home. It feels like an anticipation of a big event, a life-changing one like a wedding or a birth. I really want to live there in a brilliant and successful future. I do not want to be one of the ones who stood in the way of a good dream.
So finally, somehow, I have entered into the world that some consultants from NYC saw for us when they came with their wide worldview to our little town. I will never agree with everything they recommended or thought they saw, because of course I know us a lot better than they could. I see our flaws and the ways we've made our compromises and decided we couldn't have nice things. But I'm not going to be stuck there in the "this is good enough for me" zone about the Park Blocks.
It wasn't good enough for us last year, and while it's getting better, it's still not good enough for us. We're incredible. We're a force of nature that makes our community great right in the very middle. We're where you can bring yourself and find your people, find the things that matter, be in the middle of a time and place of fun and depth of emotion and what is real in our lives. We are at the center. We offer this to our community every week, for practically nothing, for their enjoyment and their dismissal and their delight and their distraction. We put it out there for whatever other people want to feel and want to do with it. We've been giving and putting it at the feet of our community for all these decades. And now our community wants to give it back. I want us to accept it, with gratitude and with joy. I want us to use our talents to make it so shiny and beautiful, so perfect, that we will all expire with satisfaction and be fulfilled forevermore.
Yes, I have a romantic fantasy about the Park Blocks Revitalization. I think it is going to be remarkable, and I want to be a part of it. I want to be a city booster for it. I want to put my hand to it and help make it happen. I want to leave my little fingerprint in it somewhere. What better way do I have to use all of these skills I have gained over all these years?
That's the weight I want on my shoulders, the weight of possibility and the lightness of perfection. Let's try for this, together. This is so worth doing. Let's not let our fears get in our way. Let's embrace. We're already in the middle of it, so there's no turning back now.
And all this work I'm doing, all this oppressive, onerous work...well, I love it. I want to be needed and I want to put the meaning on shirts and make beautiful treasures and sell them and I want to stay up late and get up early. And get paid for it. Today was a gorgeous summer day at the Tuesday Market and people wanted what I brought and I had a lovely day. I came home and forced myself to type some minutes and then, rather than being depleted and depressed, here I am happy and reluctant to stop writing and go to sleep. I have a wonderful life and I chose it. I get to share it. I get to work harder and longer and then go to a festival that will still be full of love even when we disagree and always when we love each other the way we do, when we're honest. And we do know how to be honest. Right from the deepest part of our hearts. We'll get through anything we need to get through. And then we'll laugh and get on with whatever comes next. On that bus, that bright and colorful bus.
Glad I got to be under it long enough to get back out and climb on top. There's quite a view!