Street 25 | Mark Lindsay

During my morning walks I almost always notice something different with the roads. The evidence is there. There have been gremlins during the night. They leave artifacts of their secret expeditions on our neighborhood streets. Sometimes I see strange spray-painted symbols. Other times it's newly painted stripes. Lovely leaves or flower petals are often scattered everywhere. Gremlins.

Last night I caught a gremlin in the act. He was painting stripes in the Safeway parking lot. He had some big-wheeled contraption that miraculously painted perfectly-straight lines in a lovely array around a huge symbol. As is always the case with gremlins, when I came out of the store to ask him about his motivations, he was gone. The new stripes looked so mysteriously pure, glowing in the sunset light. They were roped off from both foot and vehicle traffic, making them seem like some sort of precious art in a museum.

I found myself wondering how long the pureness of the new street painting would last. As soon as those nasty, black tires started driving over them, they'd start to turn a dingy gray. Soon, they'd fade into the bustle of Safeway shoppers, who are always in a hurry, generally late for something, and mostly in a bad mood. I don't see many people, this author included, smiling in that parking lot. It's one of those transition places. One rarely thinks about the present moment when going in or out of Safeway.

We think of roads and parking lots as urban wasteland, a limbo-land whose only worth is to pass through it. So, we shut off the present moment and think of something else. The mind starts its usual chatter. That's where the gremlins come in. I think about the gremlins and all the stuff they leave behind after their hijinks. Then I smile and am glad to be exactly where I am. And sometimes that even includes the Safeway parking lot.