APRIL 27, 2015
A close friend recently had this to say to me about Hole Earth,
“It’s so weird and unnecessary and important. “
Another friend excitedly suggested I “Do it by the ocean at low tide and let the water come in and let the ocean fill the hole while you’re in it!!!”
Another one says, “Seems like you should be doing this hole thing totally nude. I mean, right?”
Someone told me that Hole Earth is kind of boring and not as cool as Crawling Home. “It doesn’t have the same tension. Sorry. ”
All kinds of opinions and suggestions. And silence. And support. Definitely some real support. And questions.
“What do the holes signify?” “Is it some kind of protest?”
It sure is. Protest, memorial, ritual, rite. I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ve been drinking deeply from the Dark Mountain waters. Do you believe the stories your civilization tells you? I am asking questions with a shovel.
Mine is not to reason why, mine is but to dig or die.
Larry my wingman from the crawl is back in action and picks me up at 2 in the afternoon. We’re bound for a vacant lot in the Bronx. I am reminded that part of what’s nice about not being alone is that there is less chance I will hear from the fearful, doubting, undermining voice in my head. The voice, let’s call him Dirk, is much more likely to speak up when I am alone. For some reason Dirk is especially scared of Larry. Together I like to think that Larry and I help to silence each other’s inner Dirks. That’s what friends are for.
My printed out Google directions take us past many tire and windshield fix-it places. We seem to be lost so I eagerly roll down my window at a stoplight to ask a guy for directions. I like asking for directions. Sometimes I ask people for directions even when I know where I am, just so I can hear their voice. Larry commands me to stop before I can ask. Unlike me Larry has a smart phone and he isn’t afraid to use it.
We finally find the place, Willow Ave, and the three-story office building next to the vacant lot. The place belongs to Adam, the father of a girl my son goes to school with. I mentioned Hole Earth to him once, and he seemed interested. I told him about my search for places to dig. He offered up this lot.
The lot is revealed when Adam presses a button and rolls up the wide steel door. Roughly 30 by 80 feet and covered in gravel and weeds. Railroad ties rot in a pile against the wall on one side. Ivy vibrates new and green, climbing the wall. This is a quietly menacing place. We can hear the highway thrumming nearby. A body part could be buried here, drugs, cash, or maybe just chunks of the future.
I walk directly to what feels like THE SPOT and drop my spike, shovel and gloves. Adam wishes us luck and goes back inside to a meeting. After a bit of strategizing with Larry I start to dig. I feel no magical tingle. It is hard going right away. I am strange knight fighting the ground with my metal spear and spade. Breaking tough layers of toxic crust. This is ravaged lobotomized earth. I stab and pry at half rotten bricks and stones and down through a mysterious layer of black plastic.
A local dude saunters by the entrance, stops, watches for a moment, makes a call, and moves on.
My torso is engaged and cooperating as I stay mindful of my back and try to bend my knees. Without the iron pick I’d be in trouble here. I expose a severed power line and cut at it with the edge of my shovel like it was an errant root. I am sweating freely, but the air is cool and the rain is holding off.
I assume many positions. Hole digging Kama Sutra. Each new position gives certain muscles a break. I am relentless. Adrenaline gets into my veins as my destination begins to take shape.
“Yeah. It’s me.” I mutter to the hole. “I’ve got you now. Come on…”
Dirk is taken aback, speechless in the face of my focus and physical effort to get down deeper inside this place. With two hands I twist up a stone the size of my head like I’m pulling a calf out of a cow.
I throw down the shovel, drop to my knees and dig with my hands. Grab the shovel, squat down in the hole, sweating more, turning in a circle, slicing down the edges. Get out and roll onto my back, lay there breathing and still, winded, staring up at the sky. Stand up, take my suit jacket off and hang it on a chest high sapling. I roll up my shirtsleeves and dig more. After about an hour it looks done.
Deep enough--but maybe not wide enough? I get in to test the fit, get out and dig some more. Ready now-- I step in, sit, slowly keel over onto my side, pulling my knees in tight. Dirt crumbles from above and falls into my ear. The hole smells vaguely sour and poisonous. It is not the earth’s fault.
“Can you stay there like that?” Larry asks.
“I think so,” I say. It’s a tight fit. I should make the hole roomier but I’m whipped from digging. I’m jammed into this one.
He goes to get his car so he can drive up to the hole, stand on the roof, and take some overhead shots.
The hole is trying to tell me something again. I can’t quite make it out. Instructions? A secret? A chant? I wasn’t expecting this here. I need to try harder to understand what the holes are saying. I am listening. I need to be very quiet. It is not always easy to hear.
Larry gets some pictures. We both want to be done and gone from this place. I climb up out of my container and shake like a dog.
Filthy and hot as I fill the hole back in. I mostly erase my presence. Cover up the crime. Attempt to leave this place just as we found it. If only we could do that here on earth.
Then again maybe I need to start leaving something at the bottom of these holes. A piece of the suit? Blood? A penny? Plant a tree? Message in a bottle?
Why should I leave anything? Making my mark. What human impulse is this--- to leave something behind? Proof that we existed? I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I scratched RL WAS HERE on bathroom walls as a teenager. Trying for a connection. Still trying.