Monday, November 26, 2018

jane & annie & me & georgia

"Don't solve all of your problems," laughs Jen.

We haven't solved anyyyyyyyy, we moan over our whiskeys.

I walked into the bar that evening and Jen looked up from her old-fashioned with her friends and her jaw dropped as she saw me and we hugged. In that hug, I was so grateful for the women who had seen me through this week.


I woke up from a jealous dream on Wednesday morning before my alarm, because I hadn't set one. As I lay in the warm quiet of the Rancho morning, pulling myself into the world of blankets and tree branches out the window, I felt myself breathing.

This is living.

This is living, in the space between mattress and bedspread, feeling the air enter my nostrils and fill my lungs.

Living gets messy as the day goes by, and I endure some bumps and bruises and dole out others. My grandmother claims she doesn't give advice, but she does.

She says wise things like that sticking with someone for your whole life is either an act of laziness or great courage. She says: do you want a beer? And when I say I'm going for a walk, she says that's a great idea and comes with me to show me where the deer skulls are in the woods. Maybe I will paint them like Georgia O'Keeffe.

(I do.)

Walking through the Rancho reminds me that I am supposed to read Annie Dillard at the Rancho. I am reminded of reading Annie Dillard in the sunroom several Thanksgivings ago.

Painting reminds me even more of that Thanksgiving: I was writing a statement of intent and painting and reading about Tinker Creek and discovering pictures from an old love affair of my mother's, which reminded me I had something in common with this woman I came from but was different from, and I was in an M.C. Escher phase. And there was a boy, of course, who went with the M.C. Escher and the Annie Dillard. Dating is terrible, because once they depart, your shared universe rolls back up like a scroll, and they take with them all the pieces of your world you made together, leaving vacuous space in its place. Not just neutrality, but a positive void.

But as you learn to forget the other person, you have to forget these things, too. You halt these corollary loves which are so good—yes M.C. Escher, or the Sagrada Familia—these are not just 90's bands that have been ruined!

I suppose, however, eventually, you can relearn to love something outside of the memories it holds, as long as it is big and important enough to have space for you without the love that stamped it with its seal—I mean large and lovely things that are full of their own life: like M.C. Escher, the person you in fact once dated, God, or yourself.

I read Annie Dillard out by the pond in between psalms. Annie is also one of those wise women guides, in book form. Unhuggable, but breathable.



My other grandmother (my namesake) laughs at me as I lie wrapped up in a blanket on her sleeper sofa and chat with her in the early morning.

Renée, your romances are always so entertaining.

I laugh, too. But less at my romances and mostly with her laughing at me. They are less entertaining from the inside, I protest. But she shakes her head and tells me how young I am.

Life's full of just odd things, says Darline. There's a lot of just really weird experiences you will have, strange things happen to you. And in between there's a lot of ordinary things.

There are a lot of ordinary things, in between the messes and heartbreaks and ovens locked with pies still inside them and carrying pallets of onions across 52nd street in traffic and funny Thanksgivings flying across the country.

The ordinary things are good: how good it is, says Darline, to just sit together in the morning and laugh about the funny things kids say.


Don't solve all of your problems; leave some for us—problems are more fun when they are shared together, anyway.

You are young enough you think you can solve them on your own, but old enough to know that you will never find your way through them without the authors and the artists who give you a vision you can live by, and the women whose living provides them with clear vision.

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