Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Time Travel

Sometimes I emerge from the studio very, very tired, and astoundingly dirty. So I grab a cold water--sometimes a beer-- and go straight to the shower. It's these times when the shower becomes a think tank. Tonight I worked on remembering.
I'm from the deep South. I can play Chopin on piano, I can crochet and embroider, make dumplings from scratch, skin a catfish, dance the waltz, name the books of the Bible, shell peas, recite poetry and drop my 'r's at will. These things are like learning to ride a bicycle. They show up in my work--- mostly I discover them there later. Sometimes I put them there on purpose.
Then, there are memories, which are fewer, but more important. I can remember a lot, with effort. Relaxed from physical exhaustion,standing in a very small, private place filled with steam and the white noise of the water, I can "go in". I start in the kitchen--not the kitchen of the house where I spent my teens, where my parent's lived until they died--- the earlier one, when I was three, and six. I can see it. It is a shotgun house. The walls inside are narrow, horizontal boards and in the kitchen, painted a bright glossy yellow....I can see the radio up on the shelf and the chrome edge of the kitchen table at eye level. My mother made biscuits from scratch every day, even after the shock treatments. She could hear a song and play it on our piano. She decorated wedding cakes and wanted me to have curly hair so badly that she tortured me every Saturday night by twisting tiny sections of my hair into coils and securing them---very tightly---with a criss-cross of bobby pins. She was really, really good at math and was so frightened of tornados that whenever there was a thunderstorm she made us hide under our beds. This possibly explains why I watch lightning storms sprawled out on the grass of the golf course.

Anyway, remembering details.If you can learn to do it really well, it's time travel. It's the only way you're gonna go "backwards" anyway. At the least, it's a good, relaxing stretch for the brain. Ouch. Ahhhhhh.


Oh, and for Dr. Abba---Colombian, of course.

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