We are ugly but we have the music
Where I live it’s not pretty. At all. You can see it better when standing in this dilapidating overpass — an unintelligible sequence of bungalows and skid rows and 3-story buildings. I read once that every place tells its own music. A good place is supposed to carry a tune in some way. I’ve been to cities that looked like jazz with their dusty, uneven structures coupling their vibrant, complex culture. I have yet to find where the music happens in this place. I’d walk its wearing sidewalks even when it is shamed or unfriendly to human feet (and woman ears) just to find where the art is, to not much avail. And yet its absence had fostered my love for design. It taught me what is not beautiful. And that it’s not exactly the ugly that opposes beauty but a lack of identity.
There are days you’ll catch something though. It’s hard not to notice it once you see it, like a flower that has grown through the most impassable cracks. A young man plays his violin as he ambles along the public market. “Wait, what?! This never happens! Not even in other cities! MUST. CAPTURE.” I couldn’t hear what he was playing, but no matter. In a place that has no song, seeing this made my beauty-deprived heart burst into one. I was reminded of that Leonard Cohen lyrics: “We are ugly but we have the music.” It is always more beautiful elsewhere, that much is certain. But to find beauty where it does not live, that is something else. That makes it its own. That gives me hope for my own home.