I'm nine. I'm on a class trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
I pull back the pendulum, the fist sized brass bowl filled with sand, suspended from a chain connected to the top of a tripod. The steady trickle of sand from the bottom of the bowl traces the path of the pendulum onto a large square of black granite below. As I watch the pendulum shift its course and shorten its swing each time it changes direction, all the chatter of my classmates around me goes silent. I hear only the gentle trickle of the sand on the granite. I watch the process until the pendulum comes to rest above the center of a spirograph drawing I have done myself many times while lying on my stomach on my bedroom floor.
Still a bit hypnotized, I wander aimlessly around the great exhibit room, and find myself stooping under an elevated box about the size of a phone booth to see what's inside. The inside of this bottomless box is mirrored, and at each intersection of mirrors is a line of small incandescent bulbs. I've stopped breathing as I look above me and all around me and see infinite regressions of myself framed by almost blinding points of light. I can't leave. Many minutes pass and I feel my legs being slapped. I quickly duck out from under the box and fall last in line behind my classmates to board the bus back home.
Some day, I'm going to make my own personal mirror box.
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