Given that we are all familiar with USF’s campus, I’m sure you’ve all seen at least one parking garage on campus. And one in particular, Beard Garage. A very “normal” structure to pass on an every day walk to class. Or is it? Taking a closer look, it’s not that normal in my eyes. In fact, it’s quite weird.
Almost every day, I venture up to the 8th floor of Beard Garage and just sit there by myself. Me, my music, and the ground. This is such a regular part of my day that I didn’t think it to be anything but normal for me. But even in my life, it’s weird.
I discovered this weirdness very recently, when there were too many people for my liking up on the top floor. I decided to walk down to the 6th floor, and instead of putting my headphones in, I sat in silence for three hours.
This parking garage in particular is an “actant” on me, as Jane Bennett would say. Drawing me in every chance it gets. It has “become more than a mere object” and has transformed into “a kind of safety net” (Bennett, 2010). Given that I come here any time anything goes wrong, or if I simply want to go back, the garage has definitely become my safety net. Formed using concrete, containing stone, this garage has become an integral part of my life. A piece of “vibrant matter” that has a great deal of power over me (Bennett, 2010).
I go up here because it provides me a place where I can sit in silence for as long as I want, at whatever time I please. If I’ve had a bad day or my anxiety is taking over, I come here to bring me a sense of relief. Jeffrey Cohen mentions stones in popular texts and rocks to have an “innate ability to affect the world through radiative energies” (Cohen, 2010). For example, when the substance vermidor is placed against a “bodily swelling, the ailment quickly subsides” (Cohen, 2010). When I go to Beard Garage, this is what I need. Something to subside the pain.
As my skin touches the stone cold floor of the garage, I feel my anxiety begin to subside. But only this garage. I have a connection with it since it’s right outside my building, and it’s the only one on campus that I’ve ever been too. It can never let me down. I guess that’s why it has so much power over me.
The stone floor connects with me, and it brings me peace that I can’t get from anywhere else. We each gain something in this scenario. We being me and the stone garage. The stone finds an “alliance with an organic body to spring into organic agency” and I get relief from the weight of the world (Cohen, 2010). I receive the energy from the stone.
This man-made structure wouldn’t be considered “natural” to most people, but it is. The crushed stone it contains is natural, but most importantly, the connection I have with this vibrant matter is natural because the feeling I have when I got to Beard Garage will always be strong. I felt this since the very first time I went up to Beard Garage and sat down to let my worries fade away. I guess you could say that going here felt… natural to me.
Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter A Political Ecology of Things. London: Duke University Press.
Cohen, J. J. (2010). Stories of Stone. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies.