Once upon a time, I was a subcontracted product demonstrator. Several contracts brought me to Brattleboro Co-op not long before it's renovation and some afterwards. One cannot go too many times to the coop without an awareness of the broad side of the Latchis on the opposite bank of the river. There were murals on the building. I have to admit, I have no idea what they were, these are memorized details, I cannot picture them. I may suddenly recall them one day, my brain does record visual and I can go back into the memories and look around, but it takes time and focus. I can't actually recall visual details without that conscious focus, you could google up pictures faster. I'm not even sure if they're still there or different now and I live around the corner.
There on the broad walls of Latchis, amid not unexpected windows, murals and a door are just there, there is no way, without aid, to physically get to any of them so far as I can perceive. The way the Latchis sits so snug to the water, just a few feet of stone in many spots, even overhanging the water in others, makes it look extra difficult to reach.
My AP English teacher used to say to look out for what didn't fit in. It was significant.
Also, if you ever played video games it's where all the cool stuff is.
To me, rivers seem to separate worlds, so everything beyond gets extra curiosity. A river, in its rushing by brings sound and smell of its own, displacing such things from the opposite shore like an invisible and intangible wall.
I liked painting murals. In high school I really hated the part where I was supposed to make a mock up first then replicate it, but I certainly liked painting walls for some reason. I worked paint crew summers in college. I did well enough that after my first year when they filled up the roster before I knew they were hiring they took me on anyway when I said I was interested. This let me get away with putting murals in my dorm rooms and then avoiding the repaint fee, too.
And that door.
For all my logical brain flops around when asked to imagine something it has an equal amount of fascination for what could be. I did not know what was on the other side of that door or why it was there. This, in my logical brain, made it a portal to possibility. All sorts of things could be on the other side of that door. It could be amazing.
I never checked. Sometimes I enjoy having the portal to possibility more than knowing. There's a poem about a Grecian urn that explains this, but I don't feel it about humans the way the poem suggests to me, just things like this door.
I pondered it most days I visited the coop after I'd first noticed it.
About a decade later, someone was looking for someone to lead a mural painting project to brighten a dingy hallway.
Pre-designs were avoided!
Here's the hall where it goes, a window looks out over the river to the co-op now remodeled.
The window is next to a unopenable door with no knob. Memories tickle, but I am focused on the project at hand and cannot load memory files now.
More artists stop in and work with me. I can create something alone, but my skill is in the fostering of and blending together of many ideas or styles from many sources. Collaborating was a favorite part of this project. It was so exciting to see what other folks melded visions yielded.
The second or third day I am early and alone, someone comes through the hallway with a cart of rolls, compliments the mural, then worries I'm too hot and thus opens the window a pinch.
I am grateful for the immediate airflow and say so.
As the cart squeaks away, I twist the knob that opens the window more.
The sound and smell burst through as the window opens, I'd not be surprised if it was leaded glass in the window, it had blocked so much sound.
The glass before me swung out and so did my brain, onto the sound and smell of the river and where I'd heard this particular crash and roar before. Rivers never sound or smell exactly the same, just like a living thing it changes and evolves but keeps some recognizable particularity.
I was alone, with time to spare, so I let my brain go.
I could recall myself there, eating lunch, leaned on the fence, pondering.
There wanting to be
Spinning, the river washing away the decade between.
I'd waved one day, in case anyone was looking.
I waved back at myself, the decade blurred away in the spin and flow.
I wonder so many things.
Here and there as the mural grew throughout the hallway I and myself paused and wondered together.
Now and then I reload the memories, the spin, and join in the wondering.
I can't really picture the hallway in my head either.
It's not so much a mural or a hallway as a world of cooperative art you can step into and pass through.
I am friendly with all sorts of folks, so when this hallway was tied into inclusion, I went with it.
A mural is visual. If something is visual only, it is not inclusive.
Aside from being socially nice, inclusive things usually provide richer experiences as they account for more of the senses.
I wanted it to be touchable, too, to be both inclusive and immersive and simply because I like touching things. I tried. I still wish in ways I could have done, or do, more with it, but I'm still learning as I go and I couldn't stay there forever.
I did accomplish one thing for sure. I helped to make that space worth wondering about.