Wednesday, May 08, 2013
there are always walls
Wall foes are legion.
Robert Frost poetically wants them down. Ronald Reagan invited the Soviets to do what Frost claimed was natural.
But walls are just tools. Put to good or evil purposes. The Iron Curtain fell into the latter category.
Walls surround the property where I live. Just as they surround the property of my neighbors.
I do not give them much thought. They are primarily a cultural anomaly imported from Spain -- along with small pox, courtly manners, and Spanish.
Of course, that is little more than the legerdemain of diversity. The walls exist to protect families and property from the outside world. Paranoia was a legacy from Madrid that we do not often discuss here within the polite company of Mexico.
But walls do not always work as designed. One morning last month, I was awakened by masons adding about two feet of concrete blocks on top of the wall that forms the border with my neighbor to the west. A professor in Guadalajara who visits on holidays.
He told my brother that he had been "stolen." Or rather, someone had climbed the old wall and wandered off with his pump and some copper wire. He was raising the wall to to prevent a reprise.
I understand the impetus. We go to great lengths to protect Our Stuff from Those Outside The Wall. Sometimes, they are deterred. Sometimes, they breach the walls like condottieri.
But the Lego-looking bricks stacked on top of the old wall were not very convincing. Neither its strength nor its aesthetics.
Both were resolved when Noel showed up. He had helped build the additional height. And he was here the last two days to mud the bricks and then to add a finish that would be suitable for painting.
When he showed up, I was in my element. Every guy wants to help another guy do Guy Stuff. And what could be more guy than building a wall.
He started unloading his ladders, sand screen, boards, and related mason paraphernalia. I immediately offered a barely-calloused hand.
He chuckled. And in English, better than my Spanish, told me: "I do it alone; one price. You help; two prices." The joke must be universal amongst the construction set.
So, on Monday, he slapped on a rather rough mixture of mortar to create a base finish. On Tuesday, he returned to add a much finer layer.
And here it is. From prison gray to fresco-ready in two days.
My landlady and I looked at the work Tuesday afternoon -- trying to decide what color the wall should be painted. Personally, I like the current color. Somewhere between pumpkin and terra cotta.
And that may be what walls are truly for. Not to keep out those things we find discomforting, but a canvas where we can celebrate life's joys.
And one of those joys comes in the guise of new wheels. But that is a story for tomorrow.