I knelt on the soggy floor behind the tripod and for ten minutes all I saw was a microcosmic forest growing on a vast swamp of mildewed polypropylene. The air outside was white with clouds that reached down to caress the tops of trees along the folds of the Catskill Mountains, kissing the landscape with a lush, thick rain that looks like snow in the photographs I took from the hotel lobby. I didn't know you then, not really - we had spent two years as anonymous fellow travellers, the edges of our worlds just skimming each other as we orbited different stars - but when I imagine the place that would mean the most to me to share with you, it's there, the Pines resort on a rainy August afternoon.
I could have stayed all day in that lobby, with the rain beating against the windows outside and the air inside soaking into my trachea as if it was a sponge set with grand intentions into a shallow pool of water. Walking through the hallways of the complex felt like swimming, so I stood still and walked in my mind through the soft rises of the boreal meadow that had sprung, perfect, from the weather-soaked carpet. The earth's capacity for tenancious regrowth strikes me dumb with its innocent beauty whenever I see it. Rivers of moss have crawled across this rotting matte of carpet, and I knelt, transfixed, by the hundreds of little ferns rising like windswept cedars before an upwards-thrust fault line of drab blue couches.
I walked through much of the rest of the complex - the arid swimming pool, the purple ballroom steaming like the jungles of Borneo after a monsoon, the endless ranks of empty, lonely rooms asleep and dreaming, the basement still filled with antiques and hardware and boxes of summer camp t-shirts. I slid out a window and crept across a low roof to peer into the mysteriously locked room 1013, seeing nothing of note but unable to view the bathroom where earnest mysteries might still lie in a cracking bath tub or dusty sink. I lay on a floor to shoot photos of a plaster ceiling fixture; I stood motionless as mosquitos whirred around my ears, capturing the image of a desk being overgrown. I stood in front of acres of keys, the secret face of a resort unoccupied, and floated up stairways bathed in the wet light of aquarium glass.
Afterwards though, my mind kept returning to this lobby, to this accidental terrarium unfolding on the olefin heath. And in the dizzying storm that I've created around us today, this place is a refuge - peaceful, comfortable, timeless; the thought of walking, in miniature, into this tiny meadow with you liberates my mind from all the weights I've thrown upon it. I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to take you here, but a small part of it came out of there with me, into the pouring mountain rain, over the wobbling chain link fence, sheltered and fed in the back of my mind. And it's growing there still.
It's okay that neither of us knows where any of this is going; one way or another we'll figure it out eventually. The forest at the Pines doesn't know where it's growing to either, but one day it will find its way out.