“I knew the tension in me between love and power, between pain and rage, and the curious, the grinding way I remained extended between these poles – perpetually attempting to choose the better rather than the worse.” — James Baldwin
I read all the names of the sacred rivers and creeks
as roadside memorials blurred into permanent mile markers
horizon x distance = distortion
horizontally speaking it was a longing
pressure folding into seductive resistance
when you knew you were in trouble, what did you do next?
these days and for some time since
I move with spiritual abandonment
neglect now atmospheric radiance
habitual as landscapes
my divided thoughts are pulled to you
just because they know your name doesn’t mean they know where you came – cat power
I rediscovered grace through curated understandings
some spoken, explicit, but most often held in breath
in glances and in rhythmic exchange of metaphors
a particularly classed communion
quiet clung to the lake’s edges
marred only by wandering hymns and mornings with thunder
I thought about all those places that made us
an acceptance of motion as hard-luck blessings and raptured devotion
this is the tenuous nature of belief
in effort, a maintenance of fallibility
oh holy day: in haste, but with love
in haste, but with love – Raymond Carver’s closing in an unpublished letter to Bob Adelman December 13, 1987
that feeling when you are rendered invisible
that process when you have no ability to move forward
that entrenchment when you know everyone is battling each other’s evils
that line around and that territory where power thrives
“A dream is a poem the body writes.” — Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
I watched a city with over 430,000 trees unfold before me. Routines are similar everywhere, a perspective of work and not-work. Apartment windows half covered with homemade lace curtains watched the moving shadows of satellite dishes and geraniums. The distance between expressions measured the speed of progress, a perspective of choice and learned leisure. I believe all those colorful thoughts were earnest and almost always sincere. The old maps are still in people’s minds was a tension to move forward or remain. It was comforting to witness the efficiency of such intent.
Sandra Cisneros captured the essence of being so far away from home: “hotel rooms were filled with memories of other bodies.” A reminder of the way our bodies arch to say please and then thank you.
In all these ways
we carry ourselves
according to manifested desires
to be taken, wanted,
and to be consumed.
Today I watched the City wake
while clouds slept.
The past few days have been spread thin,
like that space between epiphany and practice,
The sunset hit the mountains right where it wanted. Long, slow strokes showing how time moves with us rather than against us. The clouds manifested into curled thoughts: smoking pigs, deformed angels, naked divers, schools of fish with a solo seahorse, dusty cat tracks, dancing rabbits. Cloud shadows performed vignettes on a landscape that, up until that precise moment, had been a light and a topography I had only seen in movies. Swimming to the sound of my breath, I found suffering gave way to resistance and eventually settled on intention as the palm trees swayed to the rhythm of jet trails miles and miles above me.
There’s no good place to start this except with a quote by Richard Hugo, “You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything.” I don’t have the right words to describe, accurately, my recent travels back east. The stories are too big, too real.
I tried to make room for these lived experiences in the time found between layovers. All those moving thoughts were supported by the background noise of airports and a soundtrack heard only by me.
I feel convinced by being witness to positive confrontation.
I’m storing a memory of the way the drapes, golden velvet from the ceiling to the floor, complimented the Bohemian crystal chandeliers in a room filled with the flurry of selfies and power. A memory heavy with pomp and a lot of circumstances. I want to remember, at will, what it felt like when I belonged and forget about the reasons why I believed I didn’t deserve to participate. Those memories are tender and should be taken seriously.
And the moment when the lights came back on to reveal a staged show for my anticipated arrival? That memory becomes an apt metaphor for this post that leaves me realizing I’ve told you nothing but the truth.
I’m writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, literally. From this vantage point, roads look like scars. We are ensconced by a million boundaries.
Pontifex refers to someone who is able to produce a work of enduring stability that spans the distance between two opposites (via Cabinet, Issue 23). The space between that distance is what I’ve traveled within and through this long week.
It was a gamble to bookend this trip with nostalgia. Like the roads seen from such great heights, I acutely saw those evolutionary experiences and recalled all that knowledge gained from each right, and wrong, turn. These are the scars within me.
“How does she get rid of that thing standing between her and what she wants? She says God may show her. But how much more does she need to see? Every day she pulls her chest open and looks at a ruined life. The heart all bloody. What is the name of the thing eating up her only life?”
Vaginas in jars, human horns, input about the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng (e.g. they raised over 21 children and maintained separate households), jars and jars of fetuses, a giant’s skeleton, and a history of the forceps.
It was the intimate possibility of how grotesque the human body can be, neatly displayed in tightly sealed jars, that validated my skewed body image – in a good way.
Professional development: Relationship building, inspiration, intentional knowledge fortification, and strategic epistemological adventures.
Personal development: Deflections, sidewalk propositions, anarchist bookstore, blue-eyed funk, and missed Amish apple dumplings.
The experience of focusing on the space outside the intended focus provided the best learning. It ended up being more accurate and balanced that way. The undercurrents of access, influence, and unintentional nepotism were the white noise to the dance of my own rhythmic exploration. I’m building my own portfolio of success.
Change is inherently risky but the alternative is not my modus operandi. Within the next few months, I will no longer be in the same place and that fact is both surreal and acutely corporeal.
As the days grow closer to the launch, I feel more and more like a situationist. I’m constructing situations that fulfill my desires, presently and for the unknown tomorrow. The geography of such an architecture is fraught with dérive but that’s where the beauty lies.
* Negative space – the space that surrounds the subject to give it meaning and shape
The modern supermarket in the heartland of america. June 2009
A recent “vacation” to my home state yielded this Lebowski moment (photo above).
The trip was a desperate search for non-existent conveniences, engaging in constructed social rituals, and fighting the exhausting battle of biting of one’s tongue. There was love, true, and ultimate satisfaction in remaining true to my belief that I will never get married.