Olivia B

Almost four years ago i got hit by an MBTA bus while riding my bike and though i got out physically unscathed save for a green lump on my forehead the size of a lemon and some scrapes on my hip and my wrists, i feel as though my life has distinctly changed ever since. My lucky settlement got me financially independent at a point in time when many decisions i had been making were based upon dependency. I was going to college more than anything because it was an opportunity my parents were willing to help fund, but once i no longer needed funding i realized that i really didn't even want to be spending money like that in the first place. So, i've treated the last several years as a constantly shifting experiment with myself, taking off on whims and pursuing whatever projects i feel compelled to, knowing that very few people ever get to live with the kind of freedom from obligation i've presently wound up with.

I spent the last winter in Arizona, a place where many conflicts which had seemed abstract and hard to personally relate to in the Northeast instead carried with them a strong sense of urgency. It became fairly clear to me a year ago on my first visit to the Southwest that colonialism was an ongoing thing- on a road trip, my friends and i stopped at a gas station in New Mexico and found a postcard commodifying the mere existence of Indians. It read something like "Native Americans - the Reservations in the Southwest lie atop the largest remaining reserves of coal, uranium and copper, BUT THE REAL WEALTH of Native Americans lies in the arts of dancing, weaving and pottery." I found the inclusion of mineral resources on a touristy postcard pretty fishy, and that skepticism opened up many opportunities to experience a variety of both overlapping and irreconcilable differences in perspectives and paradigms. Over the winter I learned a lot about where much of the Southwest gets its electricity (coal mining on the Black Mesa Reservation) and its water (the Colorado River, pumped with the electricity from Black Mesa coal mines). I also became familiar with a lot of the plants in the Southwest, meeting folks who were super knowledgeable about that particular climate and landscape. Perhaps because of the harshness of desert environments, basic aspects of survival seemed a lot more obvious to me. In a region where water is so scarce, water use seems to be a much more pressing concern. All of this made me realize how uncertain I was of all of these fundamental necessities in the Northeast, where i've otherwise lived my whole life, where i grew up with privilege and comfort and security in that all my basic needs have essentially been handed to me. The concept of abundancy to me had not been so much a "given" as it had been unquestioned and unacknowledged while growing up, a thing of apathetic, oblivious, and even ambivalent entitlement. Now that i'm back i am excited about translating my experience in a more urgent climate to a place like this that i've grown up so relaxed within.

I am almost always overwhelmed by the amount of stuff i wanna learn
and i could write endlessly about that
but whatever.

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