Monday, February 22, 2016

Nowhere Street


    Here’s a thought experiment for you.

    Or maybe it’s a writing exercise.

    Possibly, it may even be a cool way to chill out on the unfolding universe.


    Today, you are bound for Nowhere Street.

    You’ll take in its sights and sounds, drink deep of its fulsome odours, and stroke the furry backs of its abundant wildlife.

    You’ll do all of these things for the very last time today — until exactly a year from now.

    (Trust me: some of the best thought experiments and writing exercises are slower burners than the Human Torch’s favourite suspenders and stockings.)


    Pick a street close to where you live.

    To make things super good later on, it helps if it is somewhere you visit often, preferably long(ish) rather than short(ish).

    Better still, it must lead somewhere you occasionally need to travel but is not essential for reaching that particular place.

    It is a familiar street you may visit, or you may not visit.

    Once you’ve thought of such a street, it is time to slip your on your shoes.


    Make a note of the time as you stroll out into your immediate panorama.

    Train your senses on your surroundings as you walk, paying heed to the time travelling  visions of yesterday and tomorrow that momentarily interrupt your business du jour.

    What is on your mind as you walk?

    What is going on in the world around you as you muse?

    Why in hell did you come out in your slippers?


    Some time soon, you’ll arrive at one end of Nowhere Street.

    Forget what it was previously called — none of that is important now.

    Today, this street is going to disappear, returning only annually like some doorstep Brigadoon.

    Today, this street will drop from your everyday life into Nowhere.

    Deep breath, best foot forward...


    The weird thing about this place is how much you take it for granted.

    You pass by in a blur, noticing only the bigger changes — new lick of paint on a door, tree chopped down, broken window — or momentary incidents like man with a huge stomach, loud car racing past, and random goose attack (if you actually notice anything at all beyond the end of your preoccupied nose).

    Today, you must endeavour to take it all in.

    Cross-reference the scene with the immediate temporal carpet bombing of the moment.

    Did I lock the door?

    I can’t wait to see Squirting Hosepipes III at the cinema this weekend.

    Where did I put my favourit hat?

    All of this, mushy-mixied up with

    Number 32 has a nice garden wall.

    The pavement is uneven.

    Ooh, look — a Honda.

    Mushy mixy, mushy mixy, all the way to the end of the street.

    Do not be tempted to look back.

    This is Nowhere Street, and it is gone now.

    You won’t see it again until a year from now.


    Next thing to do is to race home in your slippers.

    Find a pen, flash up your tab, turn the crank on your computer.

    Jot everything down that you can remember.

    Every detail, every thought, every whatever.

    Name this piece of writing NOWHERE STREET, and be sure to fix the date, and the time you set out.

    Now, forget the whole thing.

    All you have to do with this project for the moment is to NOT VISIT Nowhere Street.

    For the next 360-something days, do not go there, do not think about it.

    If you must pass by, do not gaze upon it.


    My own personal Nowhere Street clocked up its eighth visit this year.

    Like you’re about to do, I set out with deliberation, senses primed to suck in all stimuli I could vacuum from the place before blotting every iota of its existence from my sensorium.

    In those eight years, Nowhere Street has changed more than anywhere I know.

    Most of my familiar haunts morph before my eyes in ways that are spectacularly forgettable.

    Broken windows, missing trees, paint slapped on the woodwork: all these things switch and change and become part of the view.

    One day blurs into another, as men with huge stomachs are pecked to death by mobbing geese, and entrails dissolve into the pavement with every to and every fro of my meandering.

    Nowhere Street is not like this.

    Obvious changes to its annually exposed facade are glaring in the extreme, but everything else is open to question.

    After eight years it becomes almost impossible to say what has changed and what is still the same as it was.

    Has the house with the red door always had a red door, and if not, what colour was it before?  And when did the change happen?

    Something is missing here, but what is it?

    The more times you visit, the weirder are the tricks that Nowhere Street plays on you.

    This is especially true when the immediate temporal carpet bombing of the moment is interrupted by its predecessor(s).

    It is as if some of the thoughts I had on my first outing have been frozen in time forever,  hidden from me until the one moment they can flourish with spectacular brightness.

    Themes emerge, some even die.

    My walk feels like my walk — but is it different now to how it was, way back when in 2009?

    What was I wearing?

    What thoughts would never have occurred to me if Nowhere Street was still Whatever Street and I came here all the time?


    All I know is, I do not return from my adventure with nothing to write down.


    I can’t predict what will happen to you as you set out to create this deliberate hole in your life.

    Indeed, it may seem to you that I am the worst kind of buffoon, preoccupied with trivial nonsense and walking round in circles in my slippers for the sole purpose of wearing them out so I have a viable reason to ask for Fluffy Snoopy Lounge Bootees for Christmas.

    Do not be fooled by my evident stupidity!

    Get out there now, and book yourself an annual encounter with surprises sublime. 


 Image c/o quicksandala @Morguefile

3 comments:

JSF said...

I'm with you. That was great.

fairyhedgehog said...

That's a pretty amazing thing to do.

I can't imagine having the discipline to pass by the Nowhere Road for a whole year. I'm sure that knowing it exists would exert an irresistable pull on me.

Whirlochre said...

Late in on your comments here, mainly because I've been gridlocked in Everywhere Avenue.

But at least that's better than being jammed up Somewhere Boulevard.

Watch out for further installments — in 2017.