Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ghosts and empties


Dear Secret Society,

I cannot talk about this. It has taken years to come to a place where I can look at those terrible, gleaming, acres of solar arrays.  It has been decades since they put houses on the coastal scrublands, and I still see the ghosts of the shrubbery and paths in the sand, overlaid on the tract homes and asphalt walkways.

And there is this.  I am ready to say to you that it has been a hard loss for me, David Bowie's death. 

For other young girls, for my friends, there were horses- for me there were endless access to miles of open prairie, drawing, and David Bowie.  For me, David Bowie's music and drawing, image-making, re-presenting ideas as visual metaphor were tightly bound together. 

Reading about John Muir's boyhood in Scotland, I see that my youth was the 1970's equivalent.  I was a very lucky one, except, you know, for the fact that to love the land is to suffer its loss.  When I read about the lives of the artists, with their salons, and affairs, their happenings; it was painters, writers, musicians, dancers, poets and actors, all staying up late and making things together.  This suited me fine.  It was a beautiful home I built with these people, no matter that they were not real.   Knowing them in the flesh might not have lived up to their exalted positions in my pantheon. 

Why then, does losing one of these imagined people crush so?  I don't even like sharing the loss with the billions of fans- the hoards that have been touched are almost repugnant to me-  I hate their tattoos, their handwritten farewell notes, their roses & lilies.  Why should I, though?  It's so ungenerous, so miserly to imagine a thing of beauty is mine only to be influenced by, to be inspired by, and to lose in the fullness of time. 

I confess all this to you with some reservation-  I am hoping to do better; I am hoping to feel kinship with the other mourners this year.  I am hoping to get over it, but I worry that to get over it is to impoverish the depth of feeling. Yet that cannot be right, to hang on to sadness because it is all that is left of a person that maybe never was?  Oh, yes, loss is a pickle, a real pickle to be in.