The light is a brilliant purple, and I know you’ve seen it just as I have seen it, perhaps not noticing it at first, but then looking for it everywhere you go.
It first truly registered, for me, on a drive home down Yanceyville Street, when, as I passed Revolution Mill, I found myself bathed, for just a moment, in an ethereal, salubrious, deep-purple glow, so quick I thought I may have imagined it.
Two subsequent drives later, I realized: This was a lone streetlight, just one in a long series of them, that gave off this unearthly radiance. Maybe it’s a promotion that RevMill came up with, I thought. Brilliant, and so very cool.
A friend in Carrboro posted a photo of his car under a streetlight giving off that same velvety hue. “No filter,” he noted on the post. Friends in Charlotte captured similar images.
I had to know. I had to know.
Was this a statewide stealth campaign, the purpose of which to be revealed later? Was the purple shade to raise awareness for domestic violence, or to underscore the political demographic of the state? Could it be a public art project like The Gates in Central Park? Did Nido Qubein somehow arrange this as a promotion for High Point University?
No. None of these things.
The same social media channel that deepened the mystery of the purple light also provided my answer. These beautiful arrangements of photons are nothing more than the result of shoddy workmanship and pedestrian corner-cutting.
“The purple lights are caused [by] a manufacturer defect we have identified in some LED lights we have installed around the Carolinas,” a rep from Duke Energy tweeted. “The issue causes the lights to transition from white to purple over time.”
The he gave a link where customers could report these faulty bulbs, marking them for replacement.
And it all feels like a cosmic joke on me and the things I love.
I went out there again tonight, not to rage against the dying of the light, but to just stand under it, to feel it was over me and to look at the world through it in all its lush, soothing, royal purpleness before someone puts it on a list and another someone unceremoniously removes it.
That it means so much to me is reason enough, in my mind, for someone else to want it gone.
But I noticed, on my drive down Yanceyville Street, another purple streetlight gracing the parking lot of an affordable-housing complex, and another even further down. I saw perhaps a dozen other brilliant white streetlights already beginning to ripen into that deep lavender sea.
There’s a lot more of them than I thought. And they’ll never get them all.