Every time I look down, I think of how ridiculous it is that I am standing on the outside of the bridge, on its edge. Take the step. The Rio Grande looks beautiful, flowing beyond my position. I can’t do it. Heights and water are terrifying. This is a combination of both—why am I still standing here? Many things can go wrong—hit my head, drown, break something…the list grows in my mind. Brian, the vagabond-like ex-military person, tries to coach me, to encourage me. “You can do it,” he says as he stands next to me on the junction bridge. This goes against concepts of safety, including listening to this stranger. Screw the construction of safety. Why am I getting pseudo-philosophical? Hannah, Lindsey, and Ian continue to encourage me, despite the time my cowardice devours. Three people have gone ahead of me, yet, I am still standing up here. I can feel the wind pushing me against the bridge rails, which I am tightly holding in fear of falling. I am trying to avoid falling, so why am I preparing to fall voluntarily? It is a jump, a step that includes a fall, and not merely a fall. Fine. Take deep breaths. I need people. “Can you count down from 10?” I ask. I hear the voices, and around the number 5, I finally decide to do it. 3…2…
I don’t know how to identify this feeling—it feels like an absence. I do not feel my body hitting the water. I open my eyes and see water. Shit, when am I going to reach the surface? Why is it taking so damn long? Am I out? I am. I can breathe. Swimming against the current to the left.
The same moment in the water appears in my journey at Jim’s place, except this time, a green bird insults me when I reach the surface. “You always think you are drowning,” it says. It begins where I left off in the morning, in front of a very tall, decrepit building. The number 52 is on the front (or 54, perhaps?) of the door and I wonder why I am here again. Where are the streams? Where are the trees? The beautiful green bird appears, with black eyes and a dark face.
You are too beautiful to be my spirit animal… “You are right, I am not your spirit animal. Your mom.” Its cynical, dry tone reminds me of my own thoughts, especially in regards to myself.
I enter the building and go up stairs. I flag rooms of interest, although the specific objects are a blur. I run into people I do not recognize, although they appear happy to see me.
Finally I get to a room on the final floor—the garden is beautiful. I immediately feel like I do not deserve this, and the bird makes its presence known with a smug look, as if expecting the sentiment. “This is a dirty, urban place,” it says, and I respond, insulted, “No, it’s beautiful.”
The vegetables growing on the floor, the vines conquering the television, the trees hiding the walls—“I’m glad you see it.”
So, kind of thinking of urban archaeology, now. Cool.
It smells. It is hot. I smell. I am hot. I am dragging this bucket of artifacts—hippie trash—to the sun room for our museum. Countercultural consumer trash. It feels weird cleaning trash and having these objects with so much meaning for many people. How will the display for these objects demonstrate and/or create meaning for people? I feel a connection to them as I clean, trying to construct images in my head, using my imagination to make whole objects out of these pieces of glass and textile. Coke bottle (corporate drink??), Turkish and domestic tobacco can, sardine can, etc.