Brian's Origin Stories

The Vessel In The Weeds

I was visiting my grandparent’s house in Coquille, Oregon, with my cousin.  It was the late 80s, so I was 10 or 11 years old, and my cousin was just a few years younger.  We decided to head out to the backyard to play.

Along the back edge of my grandparent’s yard ran a small creek, and as far as I could tell, it ran the entire length of the neighborhood.

As an adult, I now realize this was a disgusting drainage ditch, but for two young boys on an adventure, this was hours of fun catching frogs, salamanders, and whatever else lurked in the murky depths of its waters.

As we walked along the creek, we noticed a long, narrow vessel resting on a hillside amongst the tall grass and decided to investigate. The vessel was long but not tall, just tall enough for two young boys to crawl into if they could figure out how to get inside.  It had some writing on one side which we could not discern, along with some hieroglyphics which appeared to be warnings and possible instructions on how to operate it.  It struck us as odd that the directions were on the outside – if you were piloting the vessel from within, you would also want the instructions to be inside. Despite being slightly crushed, the vessel appeared to be mostly intact and structurally sound.  As we approached, we noticed that it had a small door on each end.

The door closest to us was sealed shut, so we could not open it.  We headed to the other end of the vessel, whispering so as not to disturb anyone or anything that may be inside.  This door was ajar, just enough to peer through the crack to see inside.  There was just enough light to see all the way to the back.  To our relief, there was nobody and no other living thing inside.  We decided to crawl in to explore further and to see what precisely this thing was.  The floor was damp to the touch.  The air was stale and had a musty smell with a hint of mold and wet newspaper.

My cousin tried to stand up, but the ceiling was too short, and he fell over against the wall, causing the vessel to roll over onto its side.   The vessel was not totally round, so we did not roll uncontrollably down the hill, but being young boys with active imaginations.  We jumped up and started pushing on the ceiling, which was now the side, causing us to roll down the hill.  We took off down the hill and across the grass, hunched over, running like two human hampsters in a wheel.

For the next several hours, with our imaginations in overdrive, this vessel became a pirate ship, a tank, a spaceship, a semi-truck, and numerous other things that carried as well as defended us from laser beams, various types of guns, bombs, and all manner of implements of destruction.  Battles of all kinds were won and lost inside that vessel.  Before long, we soon heard Grandma’s voice calling us in for supper, bringing our adventure to an end, but that afternoon was the most fun I ever had in a cardboard refrigerator box.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.