lightness and loft

Couple weeks ago, on a Sunday, there was talk of a big snow storm coming our way. And I was like a kid again, wishing and hoping for a snow day for Emm. Just one extra day where we could hang out, all cozy, and not have to go anywhere. And we got it. Emm bounced between playing Brother Bear on her computer, and watching the actual movie. She’s obsessed with the story, which features totems, as a key point. I collect deer (my grandfather used to paint ’em in all of his paintings. Unless they were the cow paintings for farmer’s barns. I don’t collect cows.). So she finds a stray deer ornament from Christmas, attaches a string to it, and wears it around her neck. “Look, Mama! This is my TOTEM!”. Always thinking and making connections, this one.

So I putter around the house. Get bored. Decide I need to read something. Perfect day. And maybe it’s because of all the ads and reviews in the paper for To Kill A Mockingbird at Hartford Stage, which feature Mathew Modine, I don’t know—but I remember that I have a copy of Birdy, by William Wharton–Mathew starred in the movie version—that I haven’t yet read. Recommended to me years ago.

I’ve always believed that things in life come when you’re ready/receptive to them. Want them. Need them, perhaps, for a particular reason. I’m reading Birdy at a wierdly coincidental time. See, Birdy, if you haven’t figured it out just by reading his name, likes birds. A lot. He’s actually obsessed. As am I, sort of. We divirge, he and I, upon the qualities of our shared obsessions. For me, birds are beautiful, fragile beings who operate on a plane of existence so very different than mine. I’ll never interfere, and I’ll never be a bird. They are separate. I’ve had cats that I’ve considered almost children, but the birds will never be. They are they. And that’s all. It is enough.

Birdy wants to be a bird. Quite simply. In the beginning of the story, he’s perched on the edge of a hospital bed, flapping his folded arms and being hand fed, like a baby bird. He’s just gotten home from Viet Nam. The rest of the story is a series of flashbacks narrated by his childhood buddy, that shed light on the origins of Birdy’s avian obsession. I haven’t yet finished the book. I’m feeling like my heart is going to be broken, and I sort of dread it. But it’s a beautiful book.

What Birdy most wants is to fly. He constructs a bird suit, with hand sewn feathers. He devises all sorts of flight experiments himself, and studies his many, many canaries (boy do I want a canary now). He takes meticulous records. I can’t quite relate to that. I don’t keep records much. Asking me to take even a snapshot of anything is a bit much. I’m not sure I have much of a desire to fly, either, though in my dreams, I’m often in flight, kind of zooming around. It feels so authentic sometimes, that I can’t believe I’m asleep.

But I relate to Birdy’s yearning to feel weightless, unbound. Particularly during my disastrous year at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in the mid-nineties. I’ve just been awarded a big scholarship, and I’m all ready to go hard at the next step (never did figure out what that was actually going to be. Probably some other kind of award to “legitmize” my talent. Sigh). The city at first captivates me, particularly what I see as this wonderful, jazzy mix of what I think of as the sacred and profane, all mixed in together. Seediness and then your churches and your high end stores. Right next to each other. I liked that.

But a week into classes, I can’t seem to get the fuck out of my bed. I’m dragging, and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it was the solid two months of theatre work preceding my arrival…grinding, exhausting, meticulous crazy work…the comedown from that had been traditionally difficult for me in summers prior. Or it could have been the disintigration, second semester prior, of a fling that I wasn’t quite ready to shake off.  I didn’t know. I figured I would do what I always did when I felt a little off. Work more. Find a project. Something. Anything so that I didn’t have to deal directly with whatever I was feeling.

But it doesn’t work. Nothing does. Not even a new roomate (thank God!), who can’t understand why all I want to do is hang out in my slip all day, sleeping,  and eating Oreo cookies and diet Coke in my permanent new residence: my bed. And crying. Alot. Poor Felix. My instructors are beginning to get really pissed off at me for all of the missed classes. And it doesn’t matter. None of it does. I feel deeply, weep heavily. And then feel nothing. Sometimes, I feel nothing so much, that only a scrape of a razor along the insides of my forarms reassures me that I’m somewhere, and feeling something. And then I cry hard all over again.

There is only one class I regularly attend, and I have feelings of anticipation and dread about it all week. Wierd sexual tension with the instructor. I never present any work.  I fidget and sigh, and doodle and stab at my ever present journal, often taking notes rabidly and randomly throughout each seminar, every week. Finally, we have break. And I never leave from my permanent spot, while everybody else dashes outside for cigarettes or a coffee. This is my  favorite spot, in all the city. And I need this. Every week.

It’s just a gap. A gap between two tall buildings, whose view I covet and can’t find anywhere else but from the otherside of these huge windows in this particular classroom. I see, between the concrete, air. Space. Endless, infinite space. If I stare long and hard enough;  relax just enough, I am out there, between those two buildings, floating the way I’d yearned and begged for so many times in my journal entries. Heavy and weighted, no more.

Please?

Addendum, or a note to anybody, everybody: I’m fine! I’m fine, k? Just thinking outloud, now that I can, about a period of my life…a good 15 years ago. Yikes! don’t want to worry anyone.

peace out.

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2 Responses to “lightness and loft”


  1. 1 bets March 18, 2009 at 1:05 am

    o my sweet.

  2. 2 petitmuse March 18, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    It goes without saying that I don’t know what I’d done without you to explain just what the fuckity-fuck was happening to me. Merci, beaucoup, again.


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