Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What happened to my windows

In four days at Jenaro Herrera field station, I broke two windows in my house, intentionally.

This research station is made with the needs and wants of scientists in mind. I get my own house, with a splotchy mirror, electricity for four hours each evening, a toilet that usually flushes, and three empty bedrooms. I think all the space is for my nonexistent equipment and experiments.

And I get two locks -- one for my bedroom, and the other for the front door -- and four keys.

The locks and keys are what did it.

You see, I am not a scientist. When my bedroom doorknob fell off and tumbled into a spiderweb (with spider), I did not fix it. I left it there.

I watched the spider explore the remnants of her web. She peeked into the cavity of the knob, obviously more curious than distraught in the face of destruction. I sketched the inquisitive creature on a square of toilet paper. Then my attention wavered, and I drew how the torn, lacy curtain plasters against my window in the late afternoon.

And then I left for dinner.

Since I am not a scientist, I did not contemplate the inner workings of the lock. I left my bedroom keys in my bedroom, assuming that a broken lock does not lock.

Obviously, the broken lock locked.

The groundskeeper did not have a spare. He had attached the spare to the original "to better keep track of it." He handed me a hammer, pointed to the window, and said that he would be back in a few minutes to help me in. I did not wait, because "a few" in Peruvian time means half an hour in Natalya time.

Clearly, this story would be much more dramatic if the window were made out of glass. But I just had to lift a few wooden planks and rip through the mosquito netting. They shouldn´t even bother with the locks.

As I swung my legs into the house, a clump of researchers passed by my house. Two of them noted my flailing silouhette, and the whites of their eyes popped. They quickened their step. If they realized that someone was breaking in, they never let on.

I climbed in, tangled my feet in the lacy curtain, tripped, and crushed my curious spider friend.

I drew her furry brown legs, crisscrossed.

The next day, I repeated this exercise with the front door. I am not a scientist, and I do not stive for efficiency.

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