Monday, February 25, 2013
I think this is the most Southern place I have been so far. Whether or not you think that's correct, it's true. This place is an apex of everything pretty and good and loving that I wanted from the South when I came here, all frosty and doe eyed from the Rustbelt. Here, the light makes everyone attractive, makes their flaws seem sweet. The wood changes the tone of their words so that everything sounds relevant and real. There's the right amount of clutter to make neatness seem unimportant.
There's a river. If there wasn't water nearby, I don't know how I would feel differently, but I definitely would. There's a bridge down the river that lights up gold at sunset, and later when it's dark, you can see the semi-truck running lights flashing over it in the distance.
And the people that were in the house with me, they are important no doubt, for other reasons. But maybe it could have been anyone, because the house will make you a better person as long as you're willing to succumb to it. I guess if Gatsby weren't there, standing like a guardian or a welcome wagon, I can't tell how much of the spell is him and how much is the house. Like, I know he built it and all, but aren't houses like children? If you build them right, then you no longer own or control them.
I remember crawling into my darling abandoned Masonic Hall, and I knew immediately, I could feel it, that it had become it's own creature. People had left it, and it had developed it's own sentience. And it was sad a little, it was lonely, but tough and predatory and beautiful all the same. This house, it developed it's own intelligence before people abandoned it, it's like...it's like the Masonic Temple was an orphan, a refugee, and this house is a healthy first world child, loved and with a liberal arts education. And maybe I'm all torn up from loving the orphans so much, from feeling the personalities of the Rustbelt all hard and starving for love, and I'm so used to just immediately giving those abandoned building all my love, I've made so much room in my heart for buildings, that this one comes along not even needing my love but swelling into my over-stretched heart all the same and I'm drowned in it.
And so I declare this place the first of My Southern Monsters. It eats the hearts of little girls and boys, and spits them out gold, all wrapped in vines and plant spit.
I don't know why I can love buildings so much harder than beings. I mean, I have heartbeat loyalty, I would never choose one over the other, I think, I'm pretty sure. Mammals 4 Life. But oh thick stone and leaded glass. Surely this is from growing up surrounded by old skyscrapers and packed together Victorians, surely this is a gift, I'm not saying that it isn't. Seeing the life in buildings is a gift, hearing them talk is a blessing. But still, they are scary huge alien creatures, like elephants and mountains. Their intentions are so glacial and foreign. People, our intentions are so fast, we make them clear and act on them almost immediately - though to us it might seem like a lifetime, our lifetimes are so quick and gnat like, we are instantaneous creatures - therefore fickle. Buildings are not fickle, their desires are slow.
It might be different if I knew how to handle them properly, not just break into them with sneaking and smashing, but how to fix them and bandage their wounds, how to make homes for them. Like a lion tamer, earning respect from the creatures he takes care of. Right now I'm still only a spectator, so the house, and the hall, and the church, and the school - they have no reason to pay attention to me - I'm neither threat nor friend. If I want buildings to love me back the way I love them, I guess I should learn to talk back instead of just listening.
But that's what I'm particularly good at - loving things without them loving me back. That's also a gift.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 11:50 AM