You wonder what you did wrong. There was something there. It used to be there, right?
Yeah. I may have a vague recollection of something. Phone calls, silliness, when you lived here, when I moved there.
um life maybe? Ya' think?
The laughter, was that real? Did you hear that as well?
So we have evidence? Evidence of something existing, something we knew to be?
How could something that once was now not be? Where does it go when it doesn't exist anymore?
It's still there somewhere but life starts layering, one thing on top of another and we grow and we learn and we know the laughter still exists. It's just. It's just under there. Do you understand?
Sorry you had to see some of the layers covering it. That wasn't cool, I know.
No apologies needed. You're cool. It's just now you owe me.
You owe me by coming here. Or not. Maybe we can spend the day at a beautiful place and maybe Betsy, Ted and Aunt Sue'll come. Maybe Slater and Shelby will be there. Maybe we'll just sit and listen to good music. Maybe Priscilla will go up front and dance. You know she will. Maybe Eric and Emily'll come. Maybe Kathy. Maybe Kennedy. Maybe Debra. Maybe hat and leave your hat on. Maybe Antonio and every damn day. Maybe Angie and Mike. Maybe Kim and Mark. Maybe Rick, Rusty, Rebecca and the kids. Maybe James. Maybe D. Surely Adam and all his. Ben'll be there. And Gretchen. Of course there is Jessica. Charlie has a new friend, Matt. Mr. Ben and Lisa. Charlie's Mom was there last year. Argo, his wife. Maybe CJ and Rick. I know Willie will have to be there and Little Joe is in the line-up on Saturday. Garry, Connor and Charlie will no doubt do something together. And well this is where Woodstomp belongs. At a festival. 'Cause we need to prove the laughter still exists.
It could simply be that some of us are more apt to learn in a void. Silence carries much further than sound and the act of company provides merely a distraction from chatter. When thought leaves where are we left?
Can we ever really know anything? Slater is mad at not the question but that half the class says no. They are in college so if they do not believe in knowledge then why would they pay all that money to obtain something they don't even believe exists. This frustrates him and he paces the question with me at midnight.
What did your teacher say?
He said we are just in college to get better jobs, not to obtain knowledge.
That's knowledge right? The fact that college will get you a better job. Or is that even correct, better than what? And what is better? Why is it better? Is easier better?
I'm just mad. I'm mad that half that class said they didn't believe we could ever really know anything.
Do you think they were just trying to agree with the teacher?
If so then I am angrier that they are in college just to please the teacher.
All I can say, baby, is that my mind has to start somewhere, I slap the concrete of the carport I am sitting on and continue. For me this is a solid. I am comfortable with the fact somewhere along the way this substance became something and I hold on to the idea that it is real. I have to hold onto what is real. I slap the concrete again, For me this is real, solid and I am okay if other people consider it not so.
He stops pacing, points at the concrete and says, Yeah.
Maybe I think therefore I am is an okay philosophical way to look at things. Maybe not. I think we just have to start somewhere so the concrete works for me.
The dialogue continues into the morning and I know more than anything, more than even the concrete I sit on or the earth Slater paces, this feels real and sometimes thinking is nothing without feeling.
Thus, I am grateful for the ability to feel if that is what this is.
There was this guy at the last Woodstomp show, a curious young man who is interested in the science of everything. And, well, it's not easy handing your camera to someone, but then again how could I say no to this guy. Plus, how great is it to share a love, a passion with your child? I can't fully describe it and I don't have a picture of him sitting alone in front of me with my camera beside him placed on a table aimed at Charlie and Connor as he busily adjusted ISO and shutter speed attempting to get the perfect shot 'cause he was going to show me how it was done.
One of the ways I know I am still alive is that Slater is still teaching me.
So it makes all the sense in the world he was interested in helping me on my most current project. We borrowed his Aunt Angie's camera and headed to the location. Tripod, two cameras, three lenses and a competitiveness used to spur each other on.
The location is a dream and Slater and I both agreed we could spend at least eight days straight shooting. There is so much to see, so much to show and it feels so reverent as if God just left the door open knowing we'd sneak in. You'd think we had worked together for years 'cause all we did was go to work with little conversation and so much focus on what we saw.
There were moments when I would stop what I was doing and see him in a corner of the room, setting up the tripod, adjusting the settings on the camera, taking the shot and waiting for the result. He'd look up at me, grin and say, Did you hear how long that took?
Uh huh. I can't wait to see it.
An hour and a half later the light was leaving and we were sweating from the labor which didn't feel like labor. I was coming down some steps and Slater said, Hold on. Let me get the light. He did, shined it on the staircase and instructed, Come down here and take a shot.
And here's the thing, I don't think you could know fully what being a parent is on any one day 'cause your heart could not handle it so everyday you are given the opportunity to see another piece of what it means to know your child.
Walter Payton ran uphill. The resistance made him faster or at least that is what Dad had said as he pointed to the incline and told me what I had to do in order to increase my speed. There would be little gain from a sporadic routine. If speed was what I was looking for then day in day out commitment to that hill was my only option.
I looked at the hill, turned and walked away.
I have no regrets in regards to my lack of speed, only gratitude for the lessons learned. Take the resistance, feel the pain and push past it. For those of us on this side of the bell curve it has to be the only way.
Leaving you with this today since I have to head out early to capture an image in the sweet morning light.
There is no question in regards to the lack of the appeal. Someone, more than one someones, have suggested I not connect my photographs and my writing. I do definitely see their point. It's just that I have this silly silly point.
So cliche, common speak you could say, to suggest we be exactly who we are at all times. Each part of us makes a whole and having pieces scattered can be quite disconcerting. For me, I guess, the writing can't be without the photography and the photography can't be without the writing. They can't be separated, together they are all of me or as much as I allow the world to see which, I guess, is all of me.
And sometimes I am not so appealing.
My speak may falter from the one in which we have been taught.
The subject matter can get quite scandalous.
I question everything and more times than not those questions come here.
I have little decorum and refuse to apologize to anything less or more.
I am no swimsuit model.
The whole perspective is just ugly at times.
and so on and so forth.
Where it got interesting only a few years back was when I started saying , it's okay. It is absolutely fine to be exactly who you are no matter how ugly the world may say you are at times. The love that you need is within yourself so stop looking outside for it.
This is selfish.
A love and respect for what you think you do.
A laugh at the voice inside who says, who gives a fuck?
Well I guess I do.
And after forty one years of being on this Earth I begin to say, You are loved with everyone of those thoughts. You are loved.
I get to work early but only after falling asleep at a red light. It is getting harder to stay awake in those times when others dictate the hours of my productivity. Decisions are being made now for safety purposes, the crib needs bumper pads. I have lost friends in a dense fog.
He smiles, Go home.
I smile, I can't drive.
If I had the money I'd pay somebody, any living breathing body, to drive me that distance in not a limousine, a Ford Pinto rather, a rattle and shake bump and groove. I'd be in the back trying to curl under a baby blanket, resting my head on a pillow without a case. I am good if the driver doesn't turn down the music. Naps will be fought then taken since there is no other way to sleep. I just don't have limousine kinda ideas but am certainly okay that it takes all kinds. It is also certainly okay that people gave up on me 'cause I gave up on them as well. It is a give and take kinda world I think.
He walks in the room with breakfast a smile and a story. And I wake up laughing, eyes wide and dancing. Ah, the dance. Who needs music when you dance?
Later I end the day with a silly hug and an even sillier grin. The drive home is not near as difficult. Once here I tell Slater, We'll have company Wednesday night. I'm cooking fish. I'll cook Wednesday night. Tomorrow night is girls' night, but Wednesday night I promise to cook.
You're cooking for him. You know what you're teaching me right? In order for you to cook I need to act like him.
No. I am cooking for me because once you guys eat I get to watch you discuss anything. Don't worry, I'll be cheering for you. I'm just cooking for the show. Do you need my debit card? Do you need to go buy food? I'm not eating. I'm sleeping.
No, I'll be okay.
I know you will. I believe in your ability to forage.
Not long after I awake in how I remember laying down.
And here we are, you and me. It doesn't make any sense at all but it is what it is and I am eternally grateful.
Weekend movie suggestion: Ira and Abby. Nice. It took me the entire weekend but I certainly enjoyed it.
When the world offers so much you may have to take some time to digest. A day, a week a year maybe five or ten. It doesn't matter. The only one pushing you is yourself. Salvation and destruction are one in the same.
He asks me to watch a movie about screaming art or vandalism or graffiti, too many words for one act it seems but only one question remains once the film has ended.
What is art?
Not long after I realize I don't care for or about the answer to that question. Maybe at the very least we can say it is a response to the consumption, a personal expression to the world who is then expected to consume it. Or not. Maybe we shouldn't expect anymore consumption.
During my first officially paid photo shoot where money could inevitably change hands I showed up at the wrong location, came pretty close to falling off a roof, thanked a painter for saving my life and met some of the nicest people in the world.
All in all, I'd call this a good day and an excellent experience.
You have seemed to become a casualty in my war for time. Yeah, don't look at me like that. I know. I should feel bad for not being there for you like I used to. Things have gotten kinda busy lately and you have been outrageously patient. How 'bout you and me, we go for a drive? Turn on the music, roll down the windows. A country road. What do you say, you wanna go? Hang your head out the window?
Six dates and Slater. That is the ritual of my physical love. The emotional love started before I even knew you, way back when a long time ago I got that out of the way. Now you invite me over to your place and I call you a smooth operator and you laugh. And I say I thought you were not going to call and you laugh. And I say yes, I'd love for you to cook for me and yea, I'd love to play chess and uh huh, I'd love to see what your Dad has done.
And yes, we have a second date.
And no, it's not the sixth and you haven't met Slater but that's okay 'cause there is time and patience and bait the hook and throw it in and sit and wait.
I must wonder what story you tell yourself.
What does it feel like to you when it rains?
What happens when the drops become vapor?
Lebowski walks in a fury, the curse and swear of the world. It has gotten in her way. It's presence only making things worse. You are beautiful, I say and laugh. She condemns the day until she sits and looks at the rain, feels the air. Later is a smile a joke a laugh and the world is wet with a small change.
Drummer calls and stammers out hurt. How what where when is the pain?
Here, he says.
I say you are beautiful and not whole. Get whole. Whatever it takes, get whole.
Hand talker struts with posture, replaces good morning with no, asks if I witnessed the difficulty of the rain and seems surprised by the thought no. Pleasantly surprised.
My Mom said if a man cheated you had a limited number of options. You could tell him you know and forgive him and be assured he will cheat again 'cause it's alright with you (how much is that piece of you worth). You can ignore it and hope it gets better with time (how much is your silence worth and is there ever really any silence). Or you can walk away.
Now walking away is not exactly smiled upon in many societies. We are encouraged to tough it out, no pain no gain, all good things come to those who wait and didn't fish in stocked ponds. There are tax incentives, people. I don't know if you have noticed as I have noticed but this world is quite stocked with people of our own age who said I had a dream and I don't give up on dreams.
In these dreams there were characters and there were certain traits of these characters which mattered to us. It could have been the other person had a fun loving attitude, a great sense of humor, an intelligence and a passion for life. It could be that when we looked them in the eyes they told us the truth. It could be so much more or less. Quite personal a decision obviously.
So what is your deal breaker? Is it the truth and when someone finally breaks down with the truth after the most extreme waterboarding you could do as a Miller girl raised in trees and a warm home and dogs and creeks and covers and pillows you look at them and walk away? 'Cause you can't stand to look at them anymore, not like that? The truth was what was important.
Walk away. Surgically methodically walk away.
And you'll find it's okay because the person you are living with is yourself and you vow to tell yourself the truth.
I am not sad. I am grateful. ~ Betty Draper (Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 3 The Benefactor)
Deal breaking gratitude with a twist of forgiveness.
Almost it needs to be a medical condition to talk to people in your sleep. Rick would say, Wake up and I would laugh. You go without enough sleep for an inappropriate length of time and you begin to sleep in conversations jotting down notes in order to dream about them later.
Integrity. Failure. Sex. Parenting. Silence. A guy. A girl. Music. Stranger.
Lack of sleep leaves you woozy and dizzy and feeling like a Z. The notes become blurred and you know a good night day weekend is coming so you persevere and you wonder about those you haven't spoken to because you have been on a journey of wonderment where so much seems to come together and fall apart all at once and you smile and hope it won't stop.
Enjoy you think.
The day begins to break into time between coffees, smiles are counted on people's faces, calls are missed and messages taken. Slater says, Mom just don't try to be anything you're not. Be who you are.