I have to stop looking. I’m going back into my bubble. I’m drowning in data. I went into my bubble the last two months in Josephine County, too, also drowning in data. Here, I’ll begin building my bubble the same way: I’ll avert my eyes.
All my windows are uncovered, inviting the outside in. The flora and fauna of this beautifully fragile place are not backdrop—I am in them. This little cottage—a Sea Ranch holdout from an earlier age—was built to fit into this landscape. It was built with a small footprint. From simple materials. Simply. It is dwarfed by its neighbors. Its redwood shingles washed out, falling off, show the “owners’” neglect. Still, it stands, functioning, humbly–respectfully–being a part of what it inhabits.
The windows also let the humans in, the ones who walk and drive by on this main drag. (Think of me as the camera in the first half of Roma: still here, still on–experiencing, watching, and recording–after the “main actors” exit the scene.) These humans have been a part of my life for more than a year. The ones whose gait suffers an urban hangover. The ones whose walk makes a runway of the street. The ones who pretend not to see. The ones who believe they can’t be seen. The ones who disappear, then reappear months later. The ones whose cruelty ripped the fabric of my reality right down the middle.
The dozens of other humans I’ve interacted with all over this otherwise nonhuman inhabited place. Also a part of my life. I have let them all in; I have participated. I have more than enough. Now, I let go and move on.
I stopped looking in Josephine County, too. Driving on 199. Those heartbreakingly beat up humans, the throw-away people, the ones the Northern residents scrape as far down the county as possible, into all the others trapped there, between mountain ranges. The ones who are mentally ill, the ones whose disease is addiction, the ones who walk and walk and walk up and down the Redwood Highway, from Grants Pass through Cave Junction and out to Crescent City, looking, everywhere–anywhere–for a little piece of land where they might find shelter. A place to set down the life they carry on their backs. A place maybe with a little privacy. A place to sleep. A place to feel safe, at least for a night. A place they might call home. For a minute, anyway.
I stopped looking in Cave Junction, even though we still have business. I had to; I had no choice. The bubble I made there kept me whole and healthy enough to find a trail out. Here, I don’t have to escape. Here, I don’t have to wait for escrow to close or for my last class to meet. Here, I complete the work and debrief. Here, I create closure. Here, it’s self-evident, the connections between the two rural worlds and what’s happening in bigger worlds.
One more week before the bubble seals, and preparations begin to make my way out of The Sea Ranch on a trail home.