A SHORT STORY BY STINA PAGLIERO
It says it should be over here. Just a little further.
Ok Peter but we’ve been driving for 30 minutes so I would expect us to arrive at this so called monument if it’s as easy as you said it was.
Yes I know, just a little closer. Kid, keep your eyes open.
The station wagon pulls over. The top is filled to the brim with everything imaginable to live a life of someone who might take a spontaneous road trip, but planned a lifetime of convenience for it. Sleeping bags even though they are always staying overnight at hotels. A coffee grinder because you never know if the 5 star centrally located city spas will brew espresso just the right way. A solar operated headlamp for the later 6-7PM drives.
Dad, you said there would be things to see here.
All places have space but all spaces do not have place. That’s how bad it got in the year 2157. The government in response was so smart that it designed the place Earth for space as a moving target of vacations to help incentivize people to live ephemerally. You could take a vacation back to Earth to feel. Earth was Disney World for “Outer Space”, which was the only thing humans really used the word “space” to equate any geographical meaning to in the English vocabulary when they lived there.
Now it lives as a place, an emotional Pokemon Go time capsule in reverse. As soon as you collected the feeling after being in the place, you moved on to the next. Museums had been doing it for hundreds of years and pyramids before that. People in every day relationships created places and spaces called boundaries subconsciously all the time.
How do we relate to space?
As the car doors slam and the dust settles, a younger woman dressed like an astronaut comes out of a small toll booth.
Welcome to SMH - The Space Museum and Monument for Humans.
Welcome to what? I don’t see anything.
The astronaut gestures.
It’s here. It’s everywhere. It’s nowhere. It’s wherever you see it to be. Any questions?
Well what do you mean it’s here squeals the woman.
We didn’t pay 1.5T bitcoin to have someone hand gesture. We came to make memories at this place. I’m calling the travel agency on this one. Going straight to their voicemail naturally. Now what Peter. You said we would see things.
Ok Wendy let’s just wait. Maybe this lady can help us here.
The dad motions to the woman in the exact coordinates that the brochure mentions as the destination. As if she didn’t understand English, his voice raises a decibel and he goes slower.
It says here that there should be a telephone booth. There’s no photo though. How do we know what it looks like? What is a telephone booth?
I’m not at liberty to talk about that sir.
The woman says.
There is one rule I am here to enforce at The Space Museum and Monument for Humans. And that’s you will know the space when you see it. But first you must see it.
Oh great that is so very insightful thank you.
More shrugs from Wendy.
Dad look what about that man over there. He is smiling and looking at something.
So it is that the family and the architect meet. A place is a location created by human experiences. The meaning we give to space correlates with the distance from human to the place.
Ahoy Sir! We are looking for a telephone booth. Do you see it?
Of course I do. I never left Earth. Where are you from?
We are from Galaxy Tesla.
The architect snuffs under his breath. There are a few who appear looking for him to solve the same problem. It’s why he stayed back on Earth frankly. More likely to run into people who recognize the space when they see it. Even it means running into these types. Here and at all the SMH locations in the SW of the USA.
So he begins.
Space is internal expansiveness. It is not a place. The place is the knowing inside you which brings your ability to find it. Which it sounds like you don’t know you have or are in and therefore can’t use it to find what you’re looking for. So you should probably call the travel agency and ask for your money back. You won’t find what you think you’re looking for yet. You aren’t here.
Wales from Wendy and the kid resounds.
The fantastical people pleasing radar from Peter is in full overdrive.
Now wait wait just a second. We ARE here. The hologram brochure riddle lists the coordinates, then says here, “The telephone booth therefore is where you least expect it. Frankly you didn’t have to leave the galaxy or your own mind to find it. But we’re not here to tell you how to live your life. You did so you did. All we can tell you is it’s here. It will appear when you see it. It is never in the same space for everyone, but it is always in the same place. See?”
The architect is ready.
I know what the brochure says and that’s why if you already are asking me, you won’t find it.
He points to the space in front of him and shakes his head.
Where are you? You must know where the space begins here and then you will see it. And then we can talk.
Dad, if it’s what he says, how do we know where it is? Can we go home yet? This isn’t fun. I really want to see my friends and play video games.
Peter, honestly, we don’t have time for this. We have things to do and people to see. You can’t find it this time again, ok? Let’s just get out of here.
Wendy’s middle name is Contempt with a capital C.
Inside him, something is building. He has lived his whole life doing the exact opposite of what this man has just said. Not relating to the space. Not creating the space. Not even knowing there was space. HA.Relating only to the other space. Others space. Outer space. Just like that, the need for space becomes even more crucial and yet disappears entirely. What is between where we and another begin? How can we always see it?
Somewhere in the distance a telephone rings.
Stina Pagliero is an American product builder, teacher, and writer who relocated from Brooklyn to live and work in Copenhagen. She is currently building product experiences at an edu-tech start up Labster and teaching a PM course at a global training school General Assembly. This has taken her all over the world—from the US to the Middle East to Europe.
Outside Empirical and GA, you can find her: spending time with loved ones, outside in nature, working on her book of short stories, or learning a new skill or in an art museum.
Growing up, Stina read every and any book she could get her hands on in libraries, shops or family homes. She never adapted to the form being taught. She encourages everyone to tell their own stories and keep finding new ways to relate to themselves and the world through reading. To those reading this now, never stop turning the pages.
WE LOVE TO CONNECT PEOPLE
WRITER Stina Pagliero
ILLUSTRATION Chelle Toulouse
PHOTO Jakub Jezny