The Long Way Home


Blank Canvas
May 12, 2011, 7:17 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , ,

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I thought it was beautiful, how Sarah peeled the canvas from the wall as  we set up for the next shot, so I went with it. I’ve forced myself to do this lately – take the camera with me when I leave the house, even if I don’t feel like shooting, even if I’m tired, out of ideas. I think I’m out of ideas, and then something moves me into action —  a blank canvas rolls gently from a blue wall, a breeze shuffles papers across a desk. Life is so strange lately. I’m in a holding place, waiting for something to happen. I take each day as it goes, looking for the small things to fill the empty spaces.

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Notes From My Mother
May 8, 2011, 7:42 AM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,

1976

It’s Mother’s Day and I want to write about how my mother was a charismatic, extremely complicated woman, but I don’t know where to start. She was beautiful and vain, full of bright laughter and dark secrets. She swam like a fish and swore like a sailor. She cooked an amazing eggplant Parmesan, but boiled asparagus to its death. In spurts of generosity, she’d give chotchkies to friends, but grew angry when you touched her belongings because they were hers and nobody else’s. She lived mostly in her bedroom the last years of her life, surrounded by Beatles biographies, her ashtray full of spent cigarettes, The Sound of Music on DVD. She typed over 100 words a minute, but never figured out how to use a computer. She kept endless lists of people and places I remember and don’t remember her talking about when she was alive. I keep lists too, and finding the ones from my mother makes me think, Why didn’t I know this about her before? On wide-ruled paper, in black ink, she tells me a memory: I remember the time me and Ruthie went to the DQ to meet Freddie, barefoot in the rain.

1975

1974



In Like a Lion
March 1, 2011, 6:45 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , ,

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Some days will be better than others since my mother’s been gone. I know this intellectually, but feeling through it is another story. This past Saturday I felt close to my old self, rummaging through an estate sale  where we found some Greek icons and a box of magic tricks that Jeff once had as a kid. The house was insane. From the front, it looked like a typical suburban ranch, but inside was a maze of 18 rooms filled with shag carpet, mirrored wallpaper, palinka bottles and flickering electric candles.  It was a prelude to round two of organizing my mother’s own estate on Sunday. I don’t know what makes any of us think that we’re going to go for a few weekends and be done with it, but it’s just one more way the brain battles with the heart, tricking you into hurrying through your grief instead of facing it.

I took the photos in this post in January when Jeff and I had our annual first date. I was going to write about the secret pockets of the museum, how I love the building almost more than the exhibits it holds. It reminds me of Friday library nights with my mother, where every three weeks she’d take my sister and me to Oakland so we could borrow books.  I loved reading in the stacks in the winter evenings, inhaling library scent as I flipped through The Three Investigators or From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. So this post is about a good memory of my mother. About the childhood want to live in a museum, or losing myself in fiction when I don’t want to deal with reality. It’s about how the world moves around my family and me as we are left grieving together, and most days, alone.

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