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Nature vs. Picnic Tables

I spent a couple of hours at Kittridge Park yesterday. It’s a small park around the corner from my apartment, right across the street from Arby’s.

It’s an ok park. Nothing to write home about. Don't get me wrong, I’m glad it’s there. A little respite in the middle of all the traffic. Plus, I can walk to it, and things you can walk to in Atlanta are worth their weight in gold. I just wouldn’t put it on your Atlanta travel schedule. Don’t have your trip be The Varsity, the Aquarium, and Kittridge Park.

The park has two little baseball fields, a public pool, and then this trail that goes through the woods. The trail is about a half mile loop and along the way there are a few benches for sitting and a couple of picnic tables, which I find incredibly intriguing.

I’ve never seen anyone eating at the picnic tables. In fact, they are all more or less destroyed. The boards are broken and they’ve been overtaken by nature. What would lunch there even look like? Having a sandwich while you get feasted on by the mosquitos?

What I find so intriguing is simply the fact that someone decided to put them there. The high hopes they must have had for them. The high hopes they must have had for us. That holds true for any public picnic table. Like the ones at the rest stops on the side of the highway. Or this one place I went to off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville a couple of years ago. It was this little parking area on the top of the mountain, and it had, I’m not exaggerating, at least 75 picnic tables. 75. I love that whoever designed this park didn’t picture a handful of people picnicking there; they pictured entire cities, all at the same time. Can you imagine how weird that would be? To see 75 picnic tables, all in use at the same time? I would be scared out of my mind. I’d be like, “They’re all about to drink cyanide right?”

I just think the men and women who included all these picnic tables in

their designs for rest areas and parks saw the best in humanity. They look at families and don’t see hurt and resentment; they see a group of people who want to eat together on the side of the road. Away from the McDonalds and the Arby’s and the Taco Bells. They saw sandwiches, chips, and canned sodas wrapped in tin foil, pulled out of brown paper bags, lovingly assembled by someone’s mother or father. Maybe the world would be a better place if we made more use of these picnic tables. If we didn’t give them over to the relentless clutches of nature. Maybe there would be less divorce and strife and bitterness if we all sat down, sucked it up, and had a salad outside with a friend while the mosquitos ravished our legs.

These abandoned picnic tables make me want to be a better person. It makes me want to not fly down the interstate, not eat my lunch cooped up at my desk. It makes me want to be the person those brave rest area architects think I can be.

Anyway, chemo number 6 tomorrow!

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