The Trainsong Paradox

Trainsong is a neighborhood of contrast.

The perimeter is an open, formless expanse of untamed grassland that unfolds into rigid parallel lines of steel railroad track and rubber power lines.

Within the narrow confines of the small neighborhood, sounds clash and meld with sights that give the community a tinge of danger and the essence of life.

Straight, lacquered planks baring untarnished metal hinges stand beside once-proud fences that are now crumpled mesh mounds.

The sound of train tires racing against rail mingles with the droning hum of skateboard wheels on the metal quarter pipes of Trainsong Park.

Along the narrow roads peppered with loose asphalt, sparkling SUVs and Scions sit next to rusted automotive remnants from decades past. A Pontiac with its back windshield busted out and its upholstery hanging from the ceiling in tattered rags rests in the overgrown backyard of a house with crusty air-conditioners jutting from its sides and decaying siding clinging to its walls.

Across the street, neatly trimmed grass surrounds an Eiffel Tower lawn ornament that sits in front of the spotless alabaster walls of a well-kept home.

A cat, full of complacent life, meows in the driveway before a crumpled, dead garage door.

A D.A.R.E. advertisement plastered on a railroad car is juxtaposed with scrawled, spray paint reading: “Drugs are good.”

Bright, blue octagonal ADT Security signs on some homes play the same role as black and red “Beware of Dog” placards on others.

The young saplings sprinkled amongst the fresh, vibrant green turf of Trainsong Park abut the pale, brittle grass and invasive shrubs of an adjacent ditch running along the ubiquitous railroad track.

Trainsong is not a neighborhood of cookie cutter houses. It is not a suburban paradise ripe with middle class comforts. It is gritty and industrial. Symbols of poverty lie in plain sight, exposed.

But it is the small things that signal hope within the community. The bio-diesel bumper sticker on a Volkswagon Van. The children riding down the middle of the street on tricycles, heading towards the park, laughing. The form-fitting, protective cloth sheath covering a car that has been earned, and is treasured. These are the symbols that hint at better times ahead.

Trainsong is not average. At first glance, it is on the downward slope of American standards. But that’s OK.

Because normal is boring.

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