The swirling circles of
Two young men sat on a park bench as we slowed to a stop in the middle of the park. Chris, 18, and Marcus, 19, had no worries of two strangers approaching and welcomed our questions warmly. As much as they said they were enjoying some quiet time on this particular Saturday, they painted us a picture of a much more dangerous park, which would come to life that night, as it does most nights.
Marcus looked on as Chris described to us in detail the trash and negligence residents give to the park. Pointing to a spot that perhaps we subconsciously wanted to miss, Chris told the stories of a park that is full of garbage. It’s scattered across benches far away in our sight, across the otherwise green grass, and even on the basketball courts on which these two young men try and play on occasion. Marcus’ eyes cast downward as the story of this park got uglier.
During the daytime we witnessed some litter here and there, but despite the absence of people, a beautiful place to play or gather. Marcus spoke of other things, showing a darker light to the park. It becomes dangerous at night he mentioned, and that Chris and himself have to avoid the park entirely when the sun is gone. Chris chimes in, looking straight out at the park and then to us, that children don’t use the lone swing set here anymore, and police rarely if ever patrol the area at night. This allows for the prostitutes to claim the park as theirs, Marcus noted.
The conversation with Chris and Marcus ended with a pleasant goodbye and warm handshakes. Two young men, out of a community of peers just like them who are searching for somewhere to relax, exercise, and have fun. But that pink bush, and the basketball courts, serve as false hope, as a façade to something that is true to violence and prostitution, to crime and not to peace.
Aaron Gottlieb and Andrea DeSabato -