Sunday, March 15, 2009

Down with your bones so white.

Into the wild, wild night.

Last night I got out of the back of my sister's car with an awkwardness similar to that of a newly born animal, all wobbly legged, towheaded with sleep, optimistic, a bit unsure, curious, wild at the same time. With a giraffe neck craned up to the same sky that has knocked me to my knees in awe and wonderment since I was a little version of myself, every single inch of my being fought against the urge to take off running towards the river just beginning to wake from a season of sleep. A river that has been the embodiment of a best friend, confidante and portal to another universe every moment of my waking life. School didn't interest me, it was confining and conservative, and I was always hungry for more, something bigger, something more tangible. My interest in working with my hands has never left, to this day. I will live an entire life of exploring things with my hands first. Never head first, never toe first, always hands.

Anyway, the river. Something about climbing out of that car with my siblings and adopted siblings all around me stifling without intention and loving, simultaneously. I looked up, tried to count the stars in that blanket of black above our heads, above the humble and beautiful house where we grew up. Tried to breathe it in before going inside where I knew the laughter and ease and something else would take over, autopilot daughter. I reckon these posts confuse and startle, but these are just words, typed as fast if not faster than my brain can compute. My hands a factory line of thought. I was there in that dark night, and I nearly had forgotten how much I missed being young and in the country. There are a billion stars, even in the pit of winter. I wanted to run to the river, run across the dam like an acrobat and run across to the other side where everything made sense and trees were exactly where I had remembered and the footpaths would be as soft and beaten from bike tires and wheelbarrows and bare feet, just as they were when I was eight, ten, twelve, god... fifteen? Seventeen? Twenty two? That land is a part of me. If and when my parents decide to leave that plot, to pull up their boots and their roots and blow that pop stand in place of a beige condo somewhere exotic (haha), a part of me will die. The house is so lovely, it is warm the instant you walk in. It is a welcome home. A place built by a generation of humble hands, of workers and painters and builders and bakers. Built by makers. But if all of that was sold tomorrow, I would grieve the land more than anything. I am not sure where this is going, but I am not going to change the pace of this based on who may or may not be reading this.

I was bartending at an art opening the other night, the opening for a woman who I have written about before: Inga from Iceland. I admire her very much, not only because she taught me a certain style of printing or the fact that just from watching her I managed to pick up a few tricks that she openly communicated with body language in lieu of words; but I admire her for her passion and her work ethic. Everything about her is sharp. Sharp jaw, sharp vowels, sharp haircut, clothes, accent, art. I don't even know her, but I look up to her. Anyway, it came up at the opening while I was pouring wine for cool moms, the after work crowd and dads with crooked ties, that I keep an open journal on the Internet. Other than the odd name slip or sputtering bursts of broken heartedness, I prefer to keep it pretty even-keeled around these parts. Even so, having the entire staff know that I post on the regular stayed with me. I went to bed that night (half starry-eyed from the event itself [I live for art openings]) and thought about the internet and how much is too much when it comes to broadcasting information about ones self openly. In an attempt to keep up with a fellow who has transplanted himself elsewhere for the time being, I was virtually slapped in the face when I opened his blog. Invitation only. I respect that move and I thought about it for two days. Today is day three and I didn't think about it as much. People lose touch and that is okay, but I never want to lose feeling.

In an effort to regain calm after an exceptionally mellow weekend, I did things today that I had not done in a very long time. For one, I was woken by my brother's voice in the red glow of the morning shining through a pair of bedroom shutters painted an angry shade, in my parents house. Coffee was on, strong, the light was clean, and the morning was slow and we were all in the country together. I woke up in my parent's basement, the air ice cold outside of my boiling cocoon. I ate lunch with my grandparents who I watched appreciatively between bites as they shared anecdotes and shushed each other with smiles on their mouths. I look forward to old age when I see things like that, see couples like that who still laugh. I was dropped off, clean laundry and all and promptly shed street clothes like skin for a wind breaker and running tights and shoes. And I ran. I ran hard. I pushed myself through lake-sized puddles (!!) and caught myself off-guard by my own laughter at the wet shoes within ten minutes. Ten minute mile. I ran and then came home soaked and stretched and then I realized I wasn't done running so I went again, this time on a short sprint to the store. Then I came home and opened a bottle of wine and poured myself a glass and I cooked. Drinking wine slowly while cooking is the best activity, is the best date, is the best birthday, is the best lifestyle. Then I watched two films I had been saving and now I am sitting upright again, sipping tea bathed in candlelight in between smatterings of punctuation and listening to another old best friend while I do this, Joanna Newsom. Musically inclined strangers as friends.

There has been something off for months, it is not because of a season, or because of an emotion or because of longing or because of hurt. While all of these things are factors at separate times and need to be acknowledged, it is something else entirely. I have no leads. Treeplanting came up at the turn of the new year and something clicked inside. Like a crooked shelf suddenly shifting into it's rightful place, I knew it was another path, another decision, another possible mistake, another possible fit, another step. So I said "okay" and while the terror of the elements and the dark (I have a love/hate relationship with the dark) and potentially failing miserably at it and letting down anyone in the process who believed I could do it in the first place, I am putting all of these things on the line and I am going to go with hopes of sharpening things that have long become dull. I want to be sharp again, it has been so long since I have felt sharp. There is no other word I can conjure up to encompass all that I want, other than the word sharp.

I spent the entire weekend trying to remember a face. The face of a man with a jagged cut in his right eyebrow and yet it is lost, along with so much else. Maybe this is why photography and I have found each other, to capture and to remember things that should never be forgotten. I doubt I will ever see him again, as he was truly too good to be true, but something shifted into place internally when I saw him and that was enough for now. These are the moments that reaffirm my faith. Freepouring booze, I saw him and something shifted. One night in a million, and we never even spoke. But those are the nights that I go back to and think about when I hear the words, who takes care of you and I have no answer and no one to answer to. I think of those moments in my life when something chugged to life inside my chest and I became sharp, even for a moment. Girl with the orange lips, in a starched tuxedo shirt in an art gallery feeling confident and alive, in her element, slipping into rooms that say Staff Only and making eye contact on the way out. I am the best version of myself in those moments. Thinking back on all of those things, it is then I can answer, I take care of others, others take care of me, and life resumes and tea steeps and fingers keep typing and tears roll and eventually dry.

In six weeks, I will pack my life away, I will put some of it in a basement and some of it in the closet's of my nearest and dearest, and I will put a tiny portion of it on my back and leave. No, I do not deserve a medal. Thousands of people have been doing this exact thing since the early seventies and while someday I would like to trailblaze something, I am not a trailblazer. Forced out of the normal and into the extreme, I will answer upon my return to no home and a newer sense of self; if anyone asks, I take care of myself.

It is normal to lose sharpness, but I never want to be dull.


  1. This post is greatness -- a gift -- proof of your taking care of yourself.

    A humble gift in return...a simple book recommendation triggered by talk of family and land and history and transitions: The Mennonites by Larry Towell. As the gorgeous Phaidon hardcover is $72, your library's copy might be worth checking out.