FILLING A VOID or Who Should We Call To Ask or Another Fact Of Art and Life
I have a wife. But I don’t know where she is. She was here one minute and then gone the next. They say it happens all the time. Disappearing acts. I don’t know who to call.
She used to say that all the time when we were having an argument or even just a lit up discussion. She would ask me one of a thousand difficult questions that she always seemed to pull out of her proverbial hat. They were questions that provoked me to silence. Then after a long pause and a lot of sighing and tapping of her feet, she would ask me if I was planning on answering her question anytime soon. And I would say, ‘’I just don’t know”.
“You just don’t know what?” she would say, “You don’t know if you are going to answer or you don’t know the answer?” This would get her good and testy.
And I would say, “I just don’t know the answer right now.” Then I could feel the blood coursing through her like she was the grand canyon herself in springtime. She would stand up and she a was a big girl. She would stand up and puff her chest out, and she had a beautiful chest. She would stand up chest out, and plant her feet real firm on whatever ground there was to stand on. She would stand up and puff up her chest with her feet planted and her blue eyes narrowed. And she had the most mysterious blue eyes. Blue eyes scare Greeks. She knew that, but she had them and she couldn’t help it either. In fact she always said she was Greek in a past lifetime. Anyway… She would stand up and puff up her chest with her feet planted and her blue eyes narrowed and she would look down on me and at me know matter if I was above or below her. She would say “Well who do you think we should call to ask, then?” And with that she would try to make her exit from the room. I always stopped her though and tried my best to muddle through and find the answer to her question. Usually the answer was buried so deep down I needed several heavy equipment operators to help me extract it. Sometimes I coughed it up. Sometimes, we both left the room mad as hatters.
The fact is though, from time to time, and often when you least expect it… people just walk out the door and just don’t come back. Don’t matter how many times you go open that door sticking your neck out looking right and left while your hand’s making a salute gesture over top your eyebrows. That one who walked out that door is nowhere to be seen. Now that I think of it, the truth is… it happens all the time. But this time it’s happened to me. This time it was my wife. And I was not even close, we were not even close to finishing that conversation. This time I amfairly certain it was Elizabeth who went and walked out that door, the door that people don’t seem to want to come back through. I keep going over to it, opening it and calling out at the top of my voice, “Hey wait, I think I can answer your question now! Hello hello!”
But this time, I have failed to get her to turn back around so we could have another go at it.
It’s been over a year now. I am starting to think it was not a dream but instead a very strange new reality. This new reality has provoked a pack of new behaviors I thought I had neatly tucked away.
During the course of the year I managed to cry a river that runs right through the middle of my house. I now need a small boat to navigate this vacant shell. I don’t know if I am going downstream or up. There have been so many waves rolling in and out, relentlessly and mercilessly tossing my boat, I am not sure in what direction I am headed.
And I keep going back to the door opening the door, looking up and down the road. I’m afraid the gators are going to catch on to the new water feature in my living room and take up residence. They do that around here.
Anyway I have been very diligently trying to distract myself. It happened when I discovered that I was doing that thing they say widow’s do, ‘oh she’s just rattling around in that lonely old house”.
So I have pulled my resources together: pens and pencils, paints and brushes, clarinets and pianos, and this typewriter. I have become obsessed with asking questions. I have filled a thousand notebooks with those questions. “That’s a fine turn of events” I hear myself mutter as I write. It was her who had all the questions and now she’s not uttering a word. Where exactly is she now that the tables have turned? “I am prepared now Elizabeth, prepared to answer you and prepared to ask you a million more questions.” I say this every morning but each time it is met with a bigger silence.
Another excellent form of distraction in this situation, is making pictures bubble up from your unconscious. Rarely are they pretty but hey, talk about a thousand words. Bump that up a factor of ten.
And my latest technique for distracting myself from the obvious, is the typewriter. It works a lot like the bubbling pictures, except I end up not having to breathe turpentine.
I suppose there’s a good reason people disappear. Just like I suppose we appear for a reason. Which is to say I have no clue. I will make the assumption though that both those statements are true. I will do it because it makes me feel better. I suppose I should be steadily trying to answer the questions: why we are here; and why, just when we get the hang of being here with someone who is our heart’s desire… we leave.
I’ve given all that up for the safety of just doing what makes me feel better. I gave it up because my head was getting good and sore from bashing it against a wall.
The things that make me feel better are reaching into my trusty bag of tricks to host a coming out party for whatever’s stirring up my interior. This is an artist thing. This is why they say artist’s are tortured souls. They say it because, (don’t tell anybody this) but it’s true!
We are not usually too forthcoming about who it is exactly that’s torturing us. We like to say it’s our wife or our mother or our friend, but ultimately the truth gets told. That’s the unfortunate part of making art. You can’t really hide behind it. It’s a big screen reality TV show that just pops out of you without warning.
TO BE CONTINUED