359: “Space Outside” (Becky Chambers)

                “She could view the space outside anytime she pleased from a cupola, but it was easy to lose track of the fact that reality did not end with a bulkhead…”
                -Becky Chambers, Record of a Spaceborn Few

                Lately I’ve been thinking about how the world stretches out, seamless, past all my surfaces.
                A month ago my friend’s cat crawled down into the air vents. It’s easy to think of the air vents as a kind of other space. As tunnels they connect to where I’m sitting, sure, they move the air, but I don’t think of them as places I could go. I don’t think of them as roads and caves beneath my feet.
                In the last months I’ve been gardening more and that means sinking my fingers into the soil. I love that part. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, and maybe part of that love is realizing the world beneath “the world” I’m used to walking through. Dirt and bugs and roots and rock and coolness and heat, down beneath my feet.
                When I was a kid my family adopted a stray cat because I started feeding it through my second story window when it climbed up onto the roof. The cat made me want to climb onto the roof, too. I watched as this creature came bounding along the top of a fence (a place I didn’t walk) to a tree to the eaves and up to my window. A path I didn’t walk, but a path just as much as the doors and stairs I did walk, and watching I thought about moving on cat feet.
                Digging I think of worming through tunnels. Of holding with grass roots.
                The cat seemed pretty nonplussed when humans took apart some of the air vents to get it out. There’s a picture. The cat is lying in this cool, dark tunnel, paws stretched out, head up, curious, ready.

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