Friday, November 16, 2012


I suddenly realized how the experience of life consists of experience and memory, and the memory is what get bent, twisted, painted, and formed into art.  The shapes, the sequences, the sections all get transformed into something in an attempt to make reality bearable.  The memories.  Can they get purged, transformed?

Painting is a shortcut way.  Sculpting even shorter.  Words torment the mind, with their easy availability and their tantalizing waltz when spoken from others' lips.

What is it you want to say?  I don't want to say anything, I just want to purge, to evacuate, to exhaust all the memories of the past, to cleanse the unlikeable, the less smooth, the uncomfortable.

Just say it!  When I went to therapy I always found my words all tripped up.  How to explain what happened over the last week and how it relates to my entire life in one hour felt so immense, so many options, so many ways to go about the task that my mind froze up.  Everything that came out of my mouth sounding so pithy, somehow a shell of the original event, unable to accurately cast the proper shade to my emotions at that moment when such-and-such event with so-and-so person made me feel in such a way that revealed some key to unlocking my increasingly insuppressable anxiety.

Then, perhaps it was just in the moment that I could not find the right words.  Perhaps, just perhaps, if I were to write everything down I could select the perfect word from a whole basket of words, at my fingertips, but then the memories get chopped up into a salad of bits and pieces, failing to come together into a memorable, savory experience.

Just write it.  Even if it's the worst ever.  Okay, here goes....

That couch.  The material of that couch.  If I can start by describing the material of that couch, perhaps we could get somewhere.  A couch from childhood.  Still you have no inkling of what it looked like.  The material was scratchy plaid.  Plaid for sure, various shades of tan and brown manmade material threads, acrylic perhaps?  Tan and brown interwoven with white.  The material was scratchy for sure, but not so scratchy that it was uncomfortable to sit on, the way some wool blankets, like Pendleton blankets, scratch your bare skin.  This was scratchy material, but also rough, in the way that a couch salesman might indicate that the material was resistant to spills and stains because it was a rough material.  This couch, this rough brown couch, is what could have cradled me into existence.  This is my earliest memory.  My face pressed against the back of the couch so as to block out any other visual experience in my field.  And within this couch is my dad. He might as well BE this couch.  Scratchy brown plaid.

This memory of this couch was brought to my attention when I was a teenager and I went to the coffee shop with my high school friend to listen to jazz.  We smoked pot in the car, after it was parked in front of a little house in the old downtown suburbs.  Then we walked to the cafe to listen to the jazz.  I sat at the little table in the cafe, with my little purchased coffee drink, with my face propped up by my right arm resting on my right cheek bone, my jaw slacked with the effect of the cannabis, listening to the jazz and seeing that couch and other long-lost childhood memories washing over me.  In some ways, the memories were fleeting, they would barrel down on me and I would be immersed in feelings of joy and confusion, surrounded by old maid cards where I could see every pair, every dole occupation, the fisherman, the carpenter, the florist with her tabby cat, and then in other ways the memories would stamp themselves upon my mind in a way that couldn't have happened without the drug.  The very act of recalling them, made them more available to me for later dates.

I'm starting to see the same thing with dreams.  If I can remember them then they become so much more a part of my real life.  I can relate to them in the same way that I would to a long-lost memory, trying to turn it around in my mind to see the different angles.

But the thing about childhood memories is that they don't have very many sides to them.  They remain one-sided, from the side of the child, that imperfect human.

When I ran down that hill to see the neighbor's dog and it jumped on me and I fell under it's great hairy weight, I will always be the one who fell in that memory.  But my challenge, as an adult is to see it from another point of view, that of the benign, omniscient adult.

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