Sunday, October 8, 2017

Parking Garage Epiphany

Is there a word for what it means to be genuinely happy for other people? 

Last night my husband and I dropped off my daughter and her date to the Homecoming Dance and headed down to Opus 1 at Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. I thought that the timing, as it was just getting dark, would be perfect. It was. 

However, I wasn’t alone in my thinking.

We found ourselves in a long, measured spiral up the MedStar building parking garage. And, as we drove, it sunk in just how many people were going to be at this event. Neither one of us is big on crowds. By the time we reached the top and a few spaces appeared we had lost the will to park, get out of the car, wend our way through the darkness to the event. 

Did I mention there were a lot of people?

We looked at each other, weighing the pros and cons. And then we took the turn down through the parking garage and went home. 

Lame, I know. Two middle aged introverts on the brink of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We turned back.

But here’s the thing. I spent much of the evening enjoying posts from those of you who were there. It was amazing. I may have felt a twinge of disappointment that we didn’t push ourselves to go, but mostly I felt a sense of joy for everyone who was out there and having such a glorious experience. (I must say the Chrysalis was looking good. It’s hard to imagine Opus 1 without it.)

Photo by Davd Saunier

It strikes me that one of the things which has been chronically missing in discussions of Downtown Development is the ability to be happy for other people. If it’s not going to personally benefit the writer of that letter to the editor, well, then, scrap the plans immediately. A prime example is this letter by Robert Tennenbaum to the Columbia Flier.

The completion of the Chrysalis [amphitheater at Merriweather Park] raises two very  different questions. Who approved this outrageous $6.6 million expenditure for a 5,977-square- foot structure? The almost $12,000 cost per square foot is beyond belief. I’ll bet no other “band shell” in the U.S.A. has even come close to this expenditure. The architect is proud that the entire enclosing awful green shell is built out of a skeleton of steel tubes, where the “structure would be fully exposed ... as a brawny steel exoskelton” sounds nice. But someone forgot that soon the Symphony Woods birds and maybe squirrels will happily discover this wonderful structure as ideal for their nests. Not to mention the droppings down on the nice floor and on peoples heads. More fix it expenditures are looming for the future! 

This is very likely the quintessential “Get off my lawn” letter in the saga of Columbia, Maryland. “I don’t like it, it’s ugly, and—squirrels!” Mr. Tennenbaum is entitled to his opinion but I’d just like to point out that it’s not his lawn.

It’s our lawn.

And, for all my friends and fellow community members (and visitors) who were celebrating in the woods last night—I am thoroughly and unabashedly happy. Joy, wonder, delight. Making my hometown a beautiful place in 2017.

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