Word City Studio: It's a Garden
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012

Word City Word Lab prompt:
"I've never been here before..."

Full disclosure: both Kathleen Sweeney and I have secret hiding places in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Most likely we can blame The Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which both of us read somewhere between Ramona and Harriet the Spy. I’ve been coming here since fifth grade, when I first spied the Renaissance bed where Claudia stayed with her brother after they ran away from home," says Kathleen.

Thing is, no matter how many times you’ve visited the Met, there’s always some corner tucked away or a work of art that you’ve never seen before. So, on to the Astor Court, and our collaboration of the week, a wordcitystudio word lab. We both started with “I’ve never been here before…”

“I've never been here before,” Rachel said, and well it seemed so labyrinthine miraculous that she hadn't...Brian Adams brought me here for the first time my first weeks at NYU after that boulder wall I hit in Boulder post-high school, that father's ultimatum year when 3.2 beer, mushrooms and Elvis Costello didn't remedy the betrayal of the force line, the “you're going because I said so”...So that visit to the Astor Court was a freedom moment, finally liberated to New York along with a full scholarship to NYU despite my mother's assertion with a stub out of her Parliament that I could never afford to go there. It"s a garden in quotes, somewhat artificial but soothing nonetheless, the water sound sanctuary tucked away in the middle of the museum. Here, in the Astor Court discovery, the pond bubbling goldfishes, the calm after the frantic search for suitcases lost at the airport following my hopscotch flight from Denver..."Get out of Denver baby go....Get out of Denver baby go go go…" My Colorado U roommate, Christine, used to sing that anthem with a shimmy of her shoulders then laugh, in this bell-like Boston way...I brought her here after she transferred to BU…..

I’ve never been here before, nor have I studied a stitch about the Ming Dynasty. 500? 300? The electric light in this garden glides over bamboo; mocking it into thinking it’s sunlight. The garden is not without sunlight, though; glass panes are filled with gray clouds that spread their shadows over the calico Koi in the fountain across the courtyard. There is a rock spreading up like bone; it has holes pierced by erosion, and through these holes you can see large leaves and pruned bonsai. The rock holes remind me of rust holes I saw on Monhegan Island in Maine. There were scattered pieces of shipwreck, the iron ripped by the ocean in one way or another. Through the holes, clear blue sky shone through.

I’ve never been in this wing of the Met before. The corners I return to over and over again are maybe on the other side. I can connect more easily to the medieval statues and amour; I can connect more easily with the Impressionist paintings that have wound their way onto coffee cups and mouse pads. I can connect more easily with the Greek and Roman antiquities sculpture garden, which is also sun filled. The good thing about going to a place where you haven’t been before is that if you don’t connect the physical space to presupposed experience, you’re open for a new ride. Maybe it has to do more with connecting to yourself. Through the passing beams across the skylight panes, I might be able to find the tap tap tap...

Thanks, SheWriters, for going on our collaborative journey this week. We hope this might inspire you to team up with one another and try something new. Sometimes it's hard work and sometimes it doesn't feel like work-- but always, something fruitful comes from it. Until next time, Word City Studio signing off!

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