At the Museum of Modern Art, we tried to line up for whatever there was to line up for. We kept trying to make eye contact with the guard. He kept not making eye contact with us, like we were from another country and we didn’t understand the gestures. There were three tent-like cubes, there was a bench, there were those hospital covers for your shoes, the ones your parents bring home when you also get a new baby sister, and you don’t know what to do with them, the masks are more fun. There were ropes set up for a line, but no one in it. We wandered to both sides. Finally we made eye contact. “Oh, yes,” he told us to take our shoes off and put the covers on our feet.
He told us that he would let one of us through at a time so that the other could take photos. In a look, he had gone from being the most oblivious guard to the kindest and easiest.
The installation was about birth. We were about to be reborn. Well: reconceived, reincubated, and then reborn.
You move long strands of black fabric into a webby area, then you are in a room of floor-to-ceiling balloons.
I had just come from work, a very mellow day. The school year here ended very calmly and slowly for me. Still, the whole school year was in my body. I had had a headache, on and off, a neck like a robot with polio, and one evening of auras (really exciting), and one good deep and solid panic attack, over the previous four weeks. Everything was good. This is just what my brain does when it’s had enough.
The room of balloons was a sensory experience I have been wanting to have forever. It was just as delightful as I imagined. I was worried about stepping on one and popping it, and I got caught in one strand of the black web, but I was delighted.
Then to the little hall, to the left into the clear plastic teepee that was the womb. I looked around in there, but didn’t feel comfortable taking up the time or space to really incubate, if you know me, you know how impatient I can be with incubation. I went right on to the birth room, where a big wavy mirror looked at me, and then I came out, in the way I hadn’t before because I was upside-down.
Last year my workplace was very uncomfortable every day. This year I have been slightly uncomfortable almost all the time because I am in a new place. Incubation sounds good to me. It sounded so good to me the first time that I would not turn around. I would not.
I thought I might go on the Cyclone in a counter phobic gesture. I was not feeling that counter phobic. I have had to force myself to do so many things the last two years. I decided I would lay off on myself for the day. The scariest roller coaster I have ever been on has an 80 foot drop and goes 50 miles an hour. That is my limit. Cyclone goes 60 miles an hour and drops 85 feet. You see?
I do my research.
Although I am older here, working with many people younger than me, getting my coffee with many people younger than me, I am sort of young, too, that is: new.
Behind me, a mom and her two kids. We chatted about how fun the piece was.
“This was my first time being born like this,” I said. I was upside-down and refused to get ready or get out.
“They were both c-sections, too,” she said.
“So I guess it was about time,” I said.