Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the Truro Dump to Ptown in One Day, Part 3

Two days ago I posted photos of the Truro dump, one of Sven’s favorite places. We had stopped on our way to Provincetown so he could visit the swap shop. While my husband went inside to check the book selection, I approached the metal pile, higher than usual, and photographed rusty springs from an ancient bed frame. It did not take long for me to become captivated by the variety of junk discarded by Truro residents. Soon a woman appeared. She examined a brown cabinet. In no time, it had become a valuable object to recycle. The final photo showed broken refrigerators and a beat up pick-up truck, obviously well loved and decorated with the American flag.

While I was taking photos, Sven saw two people struggling to possess a carton of used books from a recent drop-off inside the swap shop. “Frantic” is the word he used to describe these avid book collectors, and I doubt it was because they wanted to read. Such books have some resale value.

In Provincetown, I was struck by the range of luxury items available. There were end-of-season sales going on. Pedestrians exited shops with several shopping bags full. What a lot of junk you can buy along the middle eight blocks of Commercial Street! After a while, these objects will make their way to the dump, or Ruthies, Provincetown’s immaculate thrift shop

We also saw a blond transvestite, with a microphone, who had an exceptional voice and was belting out a tune from the 1930s. Tourists sat on benches and took in the free show, not sure how to react. Behind them rose the magnificent town hall, newly renovated, one of the four towers in the photo above.

A trip to Provincetown, even at the end of October, still feels like experiencing some psychedelic drug. Images flood the brain. Colors scream for attention. Buildings are painted a bit too perfectly. Same-sex couples rush here and there, holding hands, eager to become part of the spectacle. Every once and a while, we would get a glimpse of the harbor. The salt-sea air was all around. Seeing the sea was reassuring in a way. This is a real place, not someone's fantasy.

When we got home, I realized we had witnessed both sides of our consumer society. In Provincetown, people buy stuff they don’t need. In Truro, people recover stuff strangers have discarded and put it to good use. To see both behaviors in a couple hours was a strange experience. And, Kerry, I didn’t even need to write these paragraphs for you to get it. From your comment, you understood from the photos, right?