At night, I worry about contrived nonfiction. Why do writers do things “for the story”? When tragedy hits us, or when something wonderful happens, we are so aware of the brevity of time that the only way to memorialize the moment truly is to write about it. Not for anyone else, but for the sake of that moment and what it created in us, however briefly. We aren’t used to things staying the same, and when they do we start looking for the stories, for the changes, and if they aren’t there we go out and make them ourselves.
At night, I worry about missed connections. It was possible something minutely divine was at play, in the vein of spying the last ripe avocado, or ripping the tag off a new shirt. Life just seemed a little better for the sinfulness. A message here or there, a provocative dream, a craving late at night when they were each alone. If only they knew what was a beginning and what was a detour.
Finally finished with this Lost and Found film based on early animation clips available at the Library of Congress. Follow this white rabbit into a lucid dream, and allow yourself for just a moment to reinvent your reality.
Hope you enjoy!
Last night I worried about guardian angels. Are they ever disappointed in us? Why do they stick around? What if they don’t get to choose who they are guarding; maybe if we don’t connect with them they disappear.
At night I worry that my cat thinks my hands are not of me, but rather entities I can sometimes control. She watches them most carefully while I sleep, ogles at the inconsistency of their patterns. Perhaps in her mind, only my hands stay alive each night when my body has fallen.
At night I worry about bringing home a wife, and a baby that’s not family but rather a loved one. What a thing to call a child, what a thing to say to a best friend. I miss our childhood. I miss belonging with you.
At night, I worry that the ocean will rise over the marsh to kiss my mother’s front steps and an abusive cycle will begin, the sea gone as the stars appear, returning each sunrise drunk with salt and too in love with the moon to apologize.
At night, I worry about fistulated women far from help, abandoned. In a documentary on female castration I watched a beautiful widow lower herself into a hot tub, tears glowing on her cheek.
At night, I worry about my mother’s teeth. I fear the gargoyles in Westminster Abbey holding their teeth in their paws and howling in that odd agony specific to dental health. She flosses, I’ve checked.
As the daughter of an artist and a pilot, my earliest experience with self-expression was uniquely visual and innovative. While other children were given a coloring book or set in front of a television, my mother cleared our dining table and covered it in shaving cream, our hands and imaginations our only tools. All in good fun, my siblings left creation to the table where it was easily wiped clean. I, however, began to see canvases everywhere; the white couch was the first to go, executed via finger painting with chocolate pudding. Food was an obvious medium, as were sheets, blankets, etc. Moving out of the suburbs and onto four acres of unspoiled Blue Ridge wonderland opened my eyes to the perfect visual mess of nature. To this day, I hold the image of those forests in my mind with unadulterated love; I named my favorite trees and rock piles, collecting characters with which to fill my wandering mind. All this was merely my soul’s preparation for that undiscovered lifelong dream, which caught me up unawares like a spotted gecko in young chubby fingers. My brother was flipping through Where The Wild Things Are, when I fell into the dream from which I’ve never awoken; the thrill of hearing a word and seeing the truth in your mind’s eye. Suddenly everything seemed to be locked into harmony, a silent dance for the soul. Each word unfolded secret worlds; this was it, my perfect medium. Language, with its endlessly reinventable forms, grasped my heart tenderly and desperately as if I’d been a wild thing.
Thus my love affair with Writing began, struck like a match at 4 years old and never extinguished. Over time our relationship has evolved, often coerced into new forms and directions as life delivered new preoccupations to my feet. Fear and Loneliness came early, as long trips meant constant goodbyes and reunions with my father. I knew where Depression hid each time he left; it hung in my mother’s eyes each morning before school and each night before bed, when Aaron and Hannah and I switched off sleeping next to her each night. Writing swiftly adapted these small hurts into whimsy, romanticizing my parent’s story despite absence. As time went on the absence seemed to come home with him, as if flying had emptied his bones of marrow and replaced it with an intangible distraction.
A change of scenery, then, an infusion of marshland and Spanish moss to animate the ghost of their marriage. Writing ran with this new world, rich with marronnage and wizened oaks, and I threw myself into her believing language could save us all. And yet Depression crept back in, and distance carved hairline fractures like tidal creeks in our bones. I was thirteen when we shattered apart, when my eldest brother, my anchor Aaron, was flooded and torn away. Suicide is a sooty rag which wiped our eyes blind, and no matter how hard we fought, we could never locate our target. My parent’s held onto Hannah and I like oxygen masks in a plane crash, but when the salt water began to chill our feet they looked at each other and had to let go. We’ve all survived on different rafts. My mother was carried away on Art, my sister on Religion, my father on Logic. Writing bore me to Baltimore, an Atlantis for the drowned and drowning. I’ve never stopped searching for Aaron, I hope to find him again clinging to magic, which perhaps carried him far away. Perhaps even to the island of the wild things.