Register Friday | December 6 | 2019

Welcome To My Fort

"Forts are great. They're cozy and territorial and concrete."

When I was a child, in addition to the spinning and button-sorting that led my parents and teachers to have me tested, strenuously and repeatedly, for signs that I wasn't quite neurotypical, I also liked building forts.

Well, who didn't? Forts are great. They're cozy and territorial and concrete. When you've got a fort to hang out in, you know you've accomplished something. We had snow-forts (of course), hedge-forts, leaf-forts (more like nests, if you want to quibble) and a tree-fort that my dad built. We had sofa-cushion forts, tablecloth-forts, a fort under the walkway in the garage where all the old tires were kept, and a fort constructed of a pile of open umbrellas blocking off the empty vestibule in the front hall.

We built forts out of cardboard boxes, and hid in closets or behind the couch and called it a fort. The essential elements of a fort, then, were an inside and an outside, with some kind of peephole communicating between the two. The critical thing about a fort was its ostentatious privacy: everyone can see that it's a fort, and you're in it - but they can't see you. They can come up to the window, but they can only see as much as you let them; you're surrounded by walls. You're safe.

So when I was thinking about this the other day, it occurred to me that my life is built largely on the fort model. My apartment is a fort; when I come in here and lock the door, it's like I'm coiling up a rope ladder behind me. Even my body is a kind of fort, with me peeping out from the eyes.

And writing, any kind of writing at all, particularly personal writing, is a total fort. You hold things up to the peephole: there are four bananas leaning up against the side of the square pottery dish on my kitchen table. One of them is looking a little overripe. See? Two Ikea-looking metal candlesticks on the windowsill that used to be a mantlepiece; a stub of candle in one of them; they're standing on either side of a large pink conch shell that someone left on the balcony of my lsat apartment. Balanced on the lip of the conch is one die, five dots facing out; I don't remember how it got there. I'm sprawled on a big chair like a throne, with my feet up on my computer table, clicking my teeth together to the rhythm of the William Tell Overture. Take a peek.

So, yeah, this blog is a fort. It's ostentatiously private: how much am I telling you? You don't know what my apartment smells like, for example. Not that I expect you to care. Only, having a blog sets up an inside and an outside; otherwise, it would be all inside, or all outside, and there would be no reason to look. Our computers are the peephole, and the whole (can I use this word?) blogosphere is a vast international warren of forts, like a hamster-run, connected by an elaborate system of tunnels.

So welcome to my fort. And here's what I'm thinking: if you're reading this and have one too and want to post a link in the comments down here, it would be kind of like a miniature temporary fort village, just on this page, of random blogforts with clustered peepholes. I think that would be cool, if you want.