One of my greatest fascinations in life is: Diagonal Parking.
On first read, this may sound strange, perhaps silly.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it prompted the question: Why? Why would someone even notice this trivial tidbit of life that’s fading in glory?
Well, I’m exploring this idiosyncrasy of mine.
My fascination with diagonal parking is related to my general fascination with things askew
Diagonal parking is like arrows.
A slanted entrance. Taut but angled. Straight, but not directly head-on straight, placing one face-to-face with arrivals.
Diagonal is just a softer approach to life.
Emily Dickenson’s “certain slant of light,” is afternoon light: quiet, meditative, less egotistical, gentle, buttery, relaxing, soothing, melancholic in a seductive way. The antithesis of bright, harsh, direct, fluorescent, noontime, peak-of-your-life light.
Slanted is reflective, past the prime-of-life, the achievement/accolade piston-driven ego phase. It’s an easy slip into the slot, and, an easy exit.
Gliding back into the pocket of traffic/life. A gentle, smooth shuttle. Like weaving cloth in rhythmic, repetitive patterns. Steady, non-confrontational, active yet peaceful enough to be simultaneously contemplative.
It’s an evaporation of ego and its cold, hard drive shaft.
No fancy performance artistry of blocking traffic and creating an audience, while one navigates a vehicle into a parallel parking spot as competently and quickly as possible.
No embarrassment if the parking dance has ragged edges…diagonal is not a test of agility. It’s designed to be efficient
I don’t recall diagonal parking in my childhood home towns. Or during college years in New York City. Or post-college in southern France or Los Angeles.
I think that I encountered it on road trips – family summer vacations and my own journeys – but I can’t name the original source.
Somewhere along the path of life it became a symbol of small towns. Of little towns with coffee shops for casual gathering. Of life itself: living without a spotlight, without performance anxiety or ego competition.
A place in which to exhale. To sigh and live slower. A place energetic, productive, dynamic, creative, but, minus the pressures of fame and fortune.
To me, diagonal movement is as slinky as fabric. Like banners shifting in the breeze. Natural. Fluid.
A place in which to slip in and out of as sleekly as a cat.
No fancy underground parking or vertically, spiraling parking garages.
No parallel performances.
No caged lots with meter men and punch button tickets to be placed on the dashboard.
No skinny alleys to maneuver with a line of other cars fighting, as in musical chairs, for the remaining few resting spots.
Parallel means side-by-side. In the race next to the rival, ready to bolt ahead and win the prize.
Whereas in diagonal parking, the curb is the competition. Along with the sidewalk hosting passersby and store fronts.
Your vehicle is aligned with other slanted runners. All, somehow, battling a race against pedestrians and consumers. A race of stillness; of frozen desire.
Parallel is confining – being trapped in a boxcar queue waiting to be hitched.
While diagonal has freedom and independence and spaciousness. It’s aerodynamic and less claustrophobic – a primary fear of mine.
Diagonal feels like coming in for a landing. The sidewalk a tarmac; the stores the terminal.
Parallel feels like passing by; stuck-in-front-of; shady peripheral vision.
In culinary terms, diagonal is the finest slice of meat.
In daily life, it’s the angle I love to live through.
Something like 45 degrees with low density makes me feel crazily comfortable in my skin.