Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Today Ray and I decided to go biking and rollerblading--he bikes, I rollerblade. As we were leaving the house, he realized that his tires were a bit low on air, so we decided to go to the nearest ADNOC station to fill up. It's very close to our house. Since it was rush hour the gas station was completely packed. Ray and I maneuvered through the crowded parking lot to the air pump. While Ray was filling up, I glanced across the street.

Now this is the street we live on. It is also the street where Ray and his family lived for about 14 years. The building where Ray and his family lived is in the process of being demolished. We pass this building regularly and every time the demolition makes further progress, but for some reason I really noticed it today. While Ray was pumping air, I was looking at his old home being destroyed.

Buildings here are demolished all the time. I just taught the word 'demolish' to a group of students the other day because in this city it's such a common word. demolish transitive verb: 1a:tear down, raze b: to break to pieces : smash 2a: to do away with : destroy b: to strip of any pretense of merit or credence.
Once Ray finished getting air we stood together staring up at his former home, counting the floors, trying to figure out which pulverised rooms used to hold our memories. I spent a lot of time with him in that house. Now it looks like a life-sized dollhouse, half open for the world to see inside.
"I think that was your front door."
"No, that's the door to the kitchen."
"Your sister's bedroom is gone."
"I can still see a bit of my parents' room."

How strange it is to stand across the street and peer into a place that used to contain your life. People used to sleep there, eat there, make love there, laugh, cry, dream, grow, live. Soon it will no longer exist. The house that I see in the playback of my mind will be an empty lot.
I wonder where all the neighbors went.
I wonder what they'll build on the empty space.

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