Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Time. Let me vanish. Then what we seperate by our very presence can come together.

For JayBee and Cosmic Monkey

There are two photographs in the hallway of my apartment. The first is at the start of the hall, the second at the end, is in front of my bedroom door. When I look at each of them I experience two things simultaneously: A deep desire to know the person in the photograph and an incredible sense of wonder at knowing the person in the photograph.

The first is of my mother. She's twenty-two years old, working as a roof layer. She's a single mother of four. When I look at her in this photo there's no doubt she's absolutely the most self possessed person I've ever met.

The second is a drawing that I made based on a photograph of me at age six. In the photo I'm wearing one of my favorite dresses, my hair is very thin and I have dark circles under my eyes.

I have carried around an unnamed grief my entire adult life: I cannot remember the first six years of my life. How is it that I can look at this photograph of myself and not intimately recognize and know myself?

What seems to be driving this all home is a book I'm reading called The Time Traveler's Wife. One of the main characters is, you guessed it, a time traveler. One example from the book that I particularly enjoy is when he and his seven year old self spend the night at the Art Institute in Chicago. They look at cavemen dioramas, meteorites and a rare and exquisite version of Audubon's Birds of America. This book is enormous. I've actually seen it because I grew up in Chicago and spent many hours at this museum. This scene is one I can easily put myself and my young self in.

If I could, just for a moment, go to myself at six and experience myself as fundamentally part of who I am today... who knows? I might not have an extra heartbeat.

*Photo by my Grandfather Andres

1 comment:

JB aka JayBee said...

Memory is a strange thing. Sometimes images can hold so much meaning and so much wonder. I see photographs of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and I wonder about them. Who were they really? What would they have thought about me. Part of them lives in my blood. When I see photos of myself as a child I think about both the profound sadness and isolation that I felt at times as well as the childhood joys That I also remember. Memories and images are like a scent in my nose that is fleeting. I want to translate the scent into a flavor in my mouth, but the thin scent is too faint.

Memories and illness, how are these things connected? I have errant cells in my body reproducing out of control, cells that are weedy vestiges of my family tree, amplified by the sun. I am gay and will not have any children, perhaps these tumors want to compensate for this.

You have an extra heartbeat. Is this an artifact of a broken heart? Did you love to much, or too early? Does your heart flutter erratically looking for the answer to an unnamed question? How do memories or lack of memories manifest as weeds or scars in our bodies and souls?

If it is an illusion that we are all separate from each other, then how much closer and singular are we within our families, and what sort of self destruction do we suffer from to injure or "discipline" our children with words and physical pain.

I have only more questions.

Both of Us