Behind a Nondescript White Gate

A group of strangers came together, by chance, or because their stars aligned, and formed a society, a community, a collective of kindred spirits. And it shone, like the sun and others were pulled in by its gravity. Behind a nondescript white gate people collected and connected and for a time brick and stone became lives and memories formed.

200 R ONE was there, in infant form. In some ways you could say that this place was its incubator, as we worked from the living room of our little house where we sweated, swatted at mosquitoes, and fought like four lions for the two seats on the ratty couch – a couch that in most corners of the world would have long since been relegated to the sidewalk on garbage day.

But what we lacked in furniture we made up with good neighbors, laughter, love and the generous sharing of what we did have. When we lost our refrigerator, for example, it was replaced in a week, for the price of friendship alone, which is an easy thing to give to a generous soul. And so we celebrated. And we drank. The shop around the corner was plundered of whatever beer they did manage to drag in through the back door.

That family will no doubt miss us, though they won’t miss our horrible attempts at Spanish, which soon became known as ‘Manglish’. With possibly the most memorable phrase of the Manglish king being, “You’re just jealous, because you will never be able to speak this language as well as me.” Which was true, nor could we understand it as well as him either – or generally understand him at all; though you had to admire his spunk for deciding to simply redefine reality so that it more closely aligned with his mentality.

And we created. Music, ideas and art flowed, as cars were painted, jewelry crafted, pages built and love embraced. There were tears and frowns and angry words, but always peace was restored and friendships remade and though the magic was shaken, it was never shattered. And yet, while it remained whole, it still somehow came unravelled as the end, as time moved on relentlessly and eventually so did we. Obligation and commitment scattered us to the four winds, but our memories remain to be recalled on those days of loss and loneliness, for then all of us can whisper, ‘at least we had that’.

It was magical. It was ephemeral. It is no more.

But oh, when it was there! The nights, the days, the conversation! It’s strange how that happens, how the people connect despite the short time that they have – or maybe because of it. After all, when you know you have little time together you don’t focus on the days to come, you focus on the day, on the minute, on that moment in time you are in. And maybe that makes it so that you connect deeply and build a bond in a few weeks that otherwise might have taken a lifetime. Like how you grow to love a place in the last few weeks that you are there. As you realize how special it was. As you understand that you might never see it again.

As the nostalgia sets in.

We got to have that all along. We had, what amounted to, pre-emptive nostalgia. We got to appreciate the magic in the moment and not only witness it in hindsight, as so often happens. And as it drew to a close we began to wonder. Can this only ever happen by accident? Could you build such a place? Could you bring such people together? And what would you need? Would a network of artists, artevists and arthusiasts possibly be a place to start? Could we do something like that with 200 R ONE?

And so an idea began to form…