I felt anxious walking through the rundown path of Medford that leads to the Mystic River, but there was more to it than just my slightly irrational fear of getting mugged in broad daylight. The area irritated my mind’s habit of categorizing my surroundings. Medford is strikingly heterogeneous; while walking, I was able to observe renovated dwellings with Jumbo window decals across the street from dilapidated homes coated with rust and overgrowth. Scurrying by with my privileged armor of The North face and L.L Bean, I realized I too was playing a role in making the area bleed out of any categories I would try to place it in.
When my friend who had walked over with me asked where along the river I wanted explore first, My finger magnetically shot out in the direction of a nearby baseball diamond. I detest baseball, but the diamond was indisputably the most “human” structure in sight, and I was uncomfortable being in such a lifeless part of the city. My fear was contradictory; the lack of life anywhere in sight seemed eerie, but encountering a man ambling down the length of the river was equally unsettling. It dawned on me that anything man-made that I saw in the area comforted me and drew me in, but an actual human in the area put me on high alert. My perception of the river as lifeless was shattered when I was saw a gaggle of geese floating in the river. Although this image of geese on the water seemed textbook, I slowly began to see several qualities of this scene that seemed off to my mental library of categories. The geese were swimming directly against the current in a leisurely, almost human-like fashion. They seemed aloof from the struggle for existence that I perceive nonhuman life to generally have. But at that very moment, where I was clinging to the last warm patches on my skin and slurring my words from shivering, I felt like I was the real victim of any sort of struggle for existence.