The Vanishing Point


The sidewalk is empty. I’m alone. The doors are shut, the windows closed. I can hear everything, but there’s nothing to hear. The birds are quiet, the leaves are gone. It’s wonderful, it’s nothingness.

The sidewalk runs on into the horizon, converging on the vanishing point, from which I can see no further. What happens when you reach the vanishing point, I wonder? Do you cease to exist, multiply into infinity? I’ll probably never know. With each step, it moves away from me, taunting me.

A van glides down the wet pavement, breaking the silence. It sounds like someone is peeling off a bandage. I kick a puddle and watch the drops fly through the air.

There’s little culture here, nothing much to see. Culture, I suppose, is in the dull, mechanical repetition of life inside your home, the home identical to the all others on block. It’s HBO’s Game of Thrones or The Glenn Beck Radio Program. It’s a Microsoft Xbox controller or a Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna Italiano in the oven.


The sidewalk brought me here, to this quaint scene of Middle America. From the semitas of Ancient Rome to a life as a flâneur – a gentleman of leisure – in ol’ Gai Paris, I walk, timeless, ageless, endlessly in my quest for the vanishing point. I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it all again before I die.

I travel, on average, 3 miles an hour. The speed limit for th cars is 25 miles per hour. I watch the van, a red Ford E-Series, disappear in the abyss of the vanishing point. I imagine a loud tearing sound, like thunder. It’s another piece of cultural ephemera, gone in but a pinprick of light, just as the chariots and carriages that preceded it.

When Europeans first arrived, America was – believe it or not – startlingly devoid of sidewalks. So they built some, first with wood, then gravel, brick, and – finally – cement. As our great country urbanized, we kicked the peddlers and protesters off the curb with laws and ordinances, decreased the width of the sidewalk to make way for cars. Jaywalkers were outlawed, kids shooed into the backyard.


The streets were dangerous, the sidewalks too close, and the stores too far. The sidewalk, that great carrier of civilization, emptied out.

Except for me.

Perhaps that’s a bit hyperbolic. People still walk their dogs, after all.

I turn the corner, the vanishing point momentarily withdrawing from view. I expect to see it again, but I’ve hit a dead end. The sidewalk stops abruptly in front of the wide, green lawn of a spacious suburban home. Is this, my friends, the vanishing point? Have I, in fact, reached my destination?

For a moment, I cease to exist. Orange light pools in the spot I once stood.



4 thoughts on “The Vanishing Point

  1. There are also sidewalks that end in the ‘hood. But those are not as well-maintained as the picture you paint on this journey. Considering this country’s declining middle class, a jagged sidewalk that dead ends at a crack house of undocumented prostitutes is a more plausible metaphor for our future.

    Nicely done piece.

  2. You have point. It’s hard to say which way this country will go. I could see McMansions being abandoned for the city as energy costs rise, OR I could see the well-off continuing to isolate themselves in McMansion neighborhoods to escape aging suburbs and urban tumult. It depends on how stable you believe the future will be.

  3. A large portion of the “haves” will always try to isolate themselves from the “have nots.” The major difference is that there’s a declining amount of people to bridge the gap.

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