October 18, 2007
On the way to a funeral today I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long while: an unraveled cassette tape. The convolutions of tape were wadded in a pile on the median, and a long loop stretched out across the road. In the wind, the tape twirled and glinted like a one-dimensional version of the surface of a pond.
The sight of this brought up a vivid memory. When I was a kid, and cassette tapes were it, these piles of unwound tapes were common litter, at least in the crappy trailer park in Denver, Colorado, where we lived. Twenty-five years ago, trailer parks in Denver, and probably anywhere in the West, were dry and dusty collections of transplanted mid-westerners with unbridled children and suspicious teens. Western cities back then had large tracts of undeveloped land between housing lots, and our trailer park sat next to a block of desert that was becoming a landfill. On the edge of this expanse, there was a sidewalk limned by prickly pear cacti and unkempt yucca plants. For the handful of years we lived in that place, one of these yuccas had an entire cassette tape wrapped up in its spines; I guess no one had the gumption to reach in there to retrieve the tape, and so it stayed that way for years. On windy days, like today, this yucca glinted just like the tape I saw across the road on the way to the funeral.