Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return

IMG_2768You enter The House of Eternal Return, you’re not sure what that entails. You know very little about this place; it’s Meow Wolf’s first permanent art installation and visitors are meant to ponder the story behind the house. The House of Eternal Return is an old Victorian stuck on the day March 17th, 2016—the story is: a family of four lived there, then mysteriously disappeared. When crawling through fireplaces and refrigerator portals, patrons are encouraged to figure out how the Selig family disappeared.

You enter the house after a brief video; to your left, there’s a nook, for reading or coloring—it has an evening view through a bay window.

To your right, the living room; it looks normal, but then you look closer. The dining room walls melt into plaster and wallpaper creases, the fireplace glows ominously across from a fish swimming through mini naked neon trees the size of your pinkies.IMG_2858

You head for the stairs, but you’re cut off by a woman who opens a Harry Potter style door under the stairs and ducks under, you follow her. Behind the door is a room of low-lighting, plants dangling from the ceiling and an ocean view through sticks from a weaved bird’s nest.

You look up through a rounded window pane at a white paneled hallway with doors that open with the scan of your hand. This is just the beginning, you haven’t seen the plethora of realms to be discovered. You cozy up in a Southwest trailer and admire a desert view through orange hued Plexiglas.IMG_2792

On the other side of the trailer, you explore through a surreal room, you jostle on padded old wash rags cut into grass-like strips and patches. From the ceiling dangle mint and periwinkle vines, they vary in hues, changing in candy colored light.IMG_2899

You journey through a pitch black room, when suddenly white rays of light barrel through the room, they mosh to harp strings plucked by an 8 year old boy and his dad.IMG_2880

Exit right, you wander into hiding doors and subtle stairwells. Somehow you find yourself in a forest of neon naked trees, lining the perimeter of a life sized fish tank. You wave to the floating astronaut, suspended in water you can only imagine.IMG_2920

You don’t stop after you’ve walked around twice, you continue to hop from room to room. In an arcade you play Galaga, you die several times. One hundred glowing eyes cluster the inside of an astrological dome, you lay in a bean bag on Astro-turf and watch them watch you.IMG_2928

A kaleidoscopic video is projected in the father’s home office; next door a black and white room mocks an old Mickey Mouse cartoon, you hear rusty trumpets blow through dusty speakers, hidden somewhere behind a cardboard 1930’s Crosley radio.

The House of Eternal Return, you have learned, entails a house that leads you to realms you’ve never been before, but returns you to destinations you have. Whether it’s the tree house, the front porch or the downstairs level— you eternally return somewhere.


Typewriter Keys Punched Into My Skin

Although the words are etched precisely between my shoulder blades, like typewriter keys punched into my skin, I often forget they exist. What I can’t forget is the violent vibrations from the nape of my neck to my tailbone or the insatiable itch that succeeded. My camera rests on my shoulder, I struggle to slide the lens into focus, but assume it’s good enough. My fingers trip over a garden of buttons before they snap a photo. I zoom in and analyze the tattoo up close, inspecting each letter and line. I seem to have forgotten how well these words resonate with me. It’s been over a year since I writhed under the needle, the words still relevant but not for the same reason. I once thought they reflected who I used to be, a reminder to tread lightly and live vulnerably. But a year passed and I hadn’t seen them as often as my confidence warranted. I look at them now, backwards in the mirror but explicit, they sing louder than the caged bird sings. They define— etched on my spine like a hardcover book, they keep every page of me together, from pro- to epilogue. The theme of every chapter written in between. I am bound to these words that will set me free, I am shackled to the art of a sentence that can change the perspective of everything. Harboring secrets and stories; not wanting to be the skeleton trying to escape the girl ripping at the seams, not wanting to return to treatment for the 7th time because I can’t quite grasp recovery. I’ve wanted to purge myself of the dirty chapters, rip their stitches from my chest cavity, blackout incriminating lines to save myself the embarrassment of struggling. But my story proliferates like Mentholatum crystals on my lungs, it flowers where my wisdom teeth were, it rips through my gums. The whispers that run along my spine, the words stabbing my back and the pages dangling from my scapula; I wear them like I wear my porcelain scars like tiny mouths on my arms baring my untold story. #tinytruth #tinytruths #creativenonfiction #cnf #nonfiction #classassignment #writing #quote #tattoo #writersofinstagram #writerscommunity

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Jax Manhoff

JAX MANHOFF— She sits in front of a red brick wall, kitty corner to atlas wallpaper. Jax sips her organic chai and wrings her tattooed hands. “I think I learned more from traveling than my education.” She sits under white light, the bill of her hat casting a shadow on the right side of her face, her left cheekbone twitches as she recounts her spontaneous trip to India in '84. Jax lived in a apartment in Brooklyn when her friend Sue applied for a grant to India, which she didn't get. “One night we were sitting on the floor and we decided we were gonna go anyway.” Jax then moved to Queens to live with her grandmother, rent free, and waited tables all summer to raise money. Jax and Sue arrived in Delhi without fears or itineraries. She recounts her trek into the Himalaya’s accompanied by sherpa’s. They slept in tents and took kodachrome slides of Mt. Everest. During the trek, they met a group of guys and planned to meet them in Jaisalmer to ride camels across India. Jax danced on dunes in the dead of night, swaying to Bob Marley cooing from her walkman. They smoked beedi’s and drank raksi and slept under familiar constellations though they'd become accustomed to unfamiliarity. “India is an incredible place because there’s such immense beauty and such suffering.” Jax tugs her bottom lip with her teeth, she looks down at her hot chai gone cold. “There will be a wedding down the street and then two minutes later a funeral. It’s such a juxtaposition of heaven and hell.” Most Hindu's who live outside of Banares (or Varanasi) will typically have their bodies flown there to be cremated when they die. Cremation at this specific site means ending the cycle of life and death. “Banaras is a very sacred and holy place, but I was 21, I didn’t realize that. We went upstairs and looked down at it from a rooftop and I photographed it. Then in our boat and the police seized us because you’re not allowed to take pictures.” Jax and her friends claimed they didn’t take a photo while she concealed her camera under her coat. Jax stayed in India for 3 months and went on to adventure new places, but infinitely believes India changed her life. #classassignment #revision

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ANACHRONISM— My hands shake violently, from the cocaine or the cold, I can’t tell. I fumble with my camera, trying to figure the flash but fail with flailing fingers. I grit my teeth and grind them down to thin, enamel-less nubs. For the first time in awhile, I am desensitized to my sensitivity. I feel nothing, save a slow chemical drip trailing down my viscous esophagus. We sit at the water tower for another minute or hour. I count the streetlights lining the city that isn’t mine anymore. Orange hues and white lights laterally cover cookie cutter housing tracts and pale paint stripped strip malls. Inside taupe houses with top-shelf liquors live clones of families I’ve known over and again. In cheap convenience stores shifty-eyed clerks behind counters smack their gum and smoke cigarettes in the back office. They glare me like a petty thief, like I'm not an adult. I remind myself I am one, I’m not fifteen anymore. But I look in the mirror and note familiar dark circles under red rims, a clenched jaw and cataclysmic burn behind my eyes that could make my mother cry. I don’t know who I am anymore and I wonder if I ever did. Or if I’ve adapted every guise and disguise from every place I’ve been lost. For what? I know where I belong. I know I belong climbing aspen plenty mountains in the winters, springs, summers, falls. I know I fit into the corner of my bed, curled up in blankets, surrounded by my sole mates. Riverside isn’t my home anymore, no matter how small and suburban I feel. I make a mental note that I’m an anachronism and I leave my facades in my formative years. My legs shake violently, because I can’t seem to catch a still moment in bed. The hours pass from two to three to four to five to six to sunrise pulling me from my last thirty minute interval. A night of disappointment, or a night of realization, I can’t tell. #classassignment #creativenonfiction #cnf #nonfiction #revision

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