I work at an art gallery, with doors wide open and always looking forward to the next person who walks in. Today an odd but giddy artist fella stopped by to check out the art, among other things. I was happy to entertain him while he waited for the director to finish her meeting, but found more joy in him entertaining me. In between discussions on Zaum poetry and teaching me standing yoga poses he would yell at me because I questioned his opinion that writing makes people happy. His opinion, in a nutshell and generally speaking, was that any and all writing, like painting, fulfills a deep need for us to get in touch with our emotions and that this leads to true happiness. Hmmm. No. It is what it is.
Hours after he left, my mind ruminated on happiness. And on writing - my mind ruminated on writing…ugh. After work I decided that I'd rather not write and instead I'd finally get around to reading the April/May 2013 issue of Razorcake, the bi-monthly zine put out by Todd Taylor of Razorcake/Gorsky Press. I've been staring at my copy since I picked it up at AWP in Seattle back in February, and the freakin' thing is put together in Highland Park - where I live and work. Weird!
So this is a punk zine right? And so to find myself in tears while eating dinner at a nearby very-public restaurant was a little unexpected on an easy Tuesday night. Forget for a minute that on this night there had just been a shooting a few blocks away and the body discovered not too far. After distracting myself with the first few pages of the zine I skipped to page 8 and read the title "Notes on Grief," and a reactionary inhale overcame me until I glanced at the sketch of a bird and a Sandy Hook graphic on the opposite page. I don't remember exhaling. By the time this zine was published it had been four months since that day happened, the day we would all like to think never happened. But it did happen, and four months is the same as a day.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, in a couple days I'll be in a cyclical mourning period myself, marking the second year of life without a friend whose friendship I could really use right now. A friend whom I would have called last week to hear her laughter reign over those sounds a broken heart makes, because only the closest people know what mends you - and twenty years of friendship mends everything. But I continued reading, because I'm on a mission. And damn that Jim Ruland for being such a good writer. In spite of bringing me to tears over just how mind-body-heart-gut wrenching the world can be, he wrote about emotion, spirit and strength , and quite beautifully honored his friend's daughter, Avielle, by writing her name to memory.
Although life, its reflection and its death, was happening all around me tonight, Ruland's essay was a suggestion to me that a memory can act as a little bird that kinda passes by to say hello and quickly leaves to create a nest to find shelter in. Don't get me wrong, his essay was more of a recollection of a very dark time, but in it I found glimpses of strength. I would like to try to keep nests for glimpses and recollections of memory and strength. To create memories is an act of eternal giving, that never stops gifting - to at the very least some one. As mothers day approaches I can't help but think of my mother whom I haven't spoken with in a little while for complicated reasons, and that I love her and miss her and for now, until we do speak again, I have those memories - kept in a nest...
A momentary life of trees, branches of strength, blossoming with nests to keep memories nearby, isn't too bad... and something to be thankful for. But to the dude who is looking for happiness; writing this...isn't making anybody happier, anytime soon. And it's okay.