Lostmissing: A Public Art Project -- Continued…
"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, May 2009
Remember this project? A reminder: you know when you have a friend who you think will always be there -- no matter what, at least you’ll have that friendship, right? Lostmissing is a public art project about the loss of that relationship, a specific relationship for me -- right now it’s missing. I want to express myself in public space in a way that feels personal and more meaningful than a private expression because I want to connect to other people and other lostmissing stories. This project is a public expression of grief in order to feel hopeful again -- it’s about that random poster you see and you don’t know what it means but your eyes get bright all the sudden.
I didn’t even feel that fear when I went to visit my father, actually I stayed so present and that was what was incredible -- even with all that long-ago violence piled around me in the same rooms where it started, even with all those current-day attempts at suffocation I was still able to stand there sobbing and it felt so amazing because surviving childhood meant learning not to feel learning to hold it all in my body learning to look through them like I was looking at a wall there’s always a wall on the other side of two eyes a wall can be a destination. But there I was, sobbing and saying things I didn’t even dream I would ever want to say, maybe didn’t even dream I felt and still I was saying them because I felt them in that moment and he was going to die and I wanted to say everything.
You helped me to get to that place where I could stay present, even as they all stood around yelling or disappearing or yelling and disappearing. But then with you I didn’t cry, I could sense that you didn’t want to allow me the space we’ve created and it shut me down. Not like my father where I knew what I needed. That’s why I was shaking, I was holding all this grief in my body that distance like childhood it’s where I went to survive but now when I go there it’s like I didn’t.
There was a time when rage felt so powerful and intimate, right after I escaped those first 18 years, maybe. Rage at the world but I didn’t necessarily have control over it maybe we shared that rage it was something that connected us. When you’re really young, no one notices, they just stare down at you and say enjoy your childhood, enjoy it while you can! Finally I could make people notice. But that didn’t last, a few years and my anger shifted to sadness and exhaustion it’s so ironic that you stopped talking to me because I said: I feel totally confident about the longevity of our relationship and our trust and intimacy, but I never feel secure. I even said: you’re the most important person in my life. Even if I didn’t want a most important person in my life I was trying to say what I felt anyway. I thought you’d offer something simple like thanks, I want you to feel more secure. Thanks, I want you to feel more secure. Thanks, I want you to feel more secure. It sounds simple, right?
Instead you said you were a different person, a different person reacting the same way you did when you were a disastrous alcoholic, a different person I guess I was losing in those moments maybe already losing with your different allegiances I’ve always had friends in so many different ways but I think you wanted to get rid of me in order not to feel guilty about changing.
Maybe it’s ironic that I’m talking about your anger and how you expressed it in ways that scared me, even while I’m talking about my inability to express anger. Sixteen years is a long time, a long time to lose just like that. I want to treasure everything you gave me, even as it turns to grief, does that mean I want to treasure grief? Of course there’s much to say about the gems tears create, even when they stay inside your eyes there’s that soft sheen.
Wait -- I did spit in someone’s face once, in that angry way. It was a cop.
Back then I used to say that cops weren’t human but of course they are and that’s part of the problem. But where were you during that protest? Maybe you’d moved to Philadelphia. But actually I don’t remember you from any of those protests back then when protests were the most important thing to me, didn’t matter I wanted to make sure that I didn’t think protests should be the center of everyone’s lives. Or at least I was trying.
Ten years later we were at one of the antiwar protests and something happened you got angry, you said you’d been marching all day and I’d just gotten there and I couldn’t believe it, all of those years when I tried so diligently not to make you feel guilty about not attending the protests I worked so hard to create, all of those years and here you were giving me attitude and I remember I got upset and it was a rare moment of friction between us I mean a moment when I expressed it. But what did I say? I left you there and walked home, walked home with my bag that before you were carrying but then I decided not to go home and we ended up at the same place which was that squat on Market Street and maybe you apologized I think you apologized but I’m not sure if you knew why.
But the way memory works, then we’re walking up Hyde Street after something in the East Bay, maybe you’re walking me home but you want to go to this party this party where you say you’re not going to drink you’re not going to drink because you’ve had enough you just want sex and I know why I’m remembering this walk home with the aftermath of that protest, not just because it’s the same walk a different night but because it’s another time when I got angry, I mean I got angry and showed it. I said I know you’re lying to me it’s not like I’m fucking clairvoyant just tell me the fucking truth and you tried to defend yourself because we were there with someone else and I didn’t even need to hear the stories of you tumbling to the ground in liquor delirium macho get-some blackout grab-for-it I always hated you that way. It’s funny how, maybe a year or two ago we were chatting and I was trying to remember why, even back when we met and we both went out drinking, we didn’t go out drinking together, and you said it was because I couldn’t deal with your aggression. You said even back then, 16 or 15, 14 13 12 years ago, when we would run into each other at bars I would say hi and then stay away. Maybe by reminding me of that you were trying to be accountable, accountable from the distance of a decade and more, maybe that’s what you were trying to do without naming it, tell me the truth but shelter your feelings. A shelter I helped to create, even though it was everything I didn’t believe in.
(Lostmissing #8-11 are too visual to print without the images -- to see them, you can go to my blog, or I can send them to you.)
One day we have a friendship of 16 years a relationship a commitment a dream a hug a conversation, and the next day it’s gone. Your commitment, your dream, your hug your conversation.
Or maybe it’s not gone; you just won’t call me back. I want to call you, but I’m not sure whether I want to talk to you. I want to call you, just so you’ll say: I don’t want to talk to you. And then I can say: how dare you talk to me like that?
Maybe one of the things that scared you was that I said you were the most important person in my life, not just that I was still angry for those five years when you lied about everything but because I told you what you meant to me. Probably what I meant to you too and maybe that made it scarier. I still wake up and think of things to say when I finally see you, I want you to know how I’m feeling or at least the anger part. Probably you know the rest.
I wonder if I’ve let go too easily, moved all my sadness and overwhelm into this project which actually gives me hope, this project of writing to you but not to you, writing to the world and with the world and in the world and all over the world. Maybe that’s what it means for me not to give up. It’s like all of these gestures can hold me in the way that you won’t. But I keep thinking about you.
I wonder what you’re thinking now. I wonder what you would think if you read this, if that would change what you’re thinking now. I wonder if this change would make a difference, a difference in the way you’re thinking. I wonder if you care.
I know you care about what you’re thinking. I wonder if you care too much about what you’re thinking, and not enough about -- okay, I might as well just say it: I wonder if you’re thinking about me. If I want you to think about me. What I want you to think about me.
What you want. It always comes back there. I wonder how to get away, to get away from what you want. Maybe we need a confrontation. A confrontation you don’t want. Maybe I’ll call you right now, I’ll call you right now and see what you’re thinking.