Monday, September 21, 2009

The sky, the stars and the wilderness. (Love as possession.)

Last SF sky
Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

I've been in Anchorage now for almost a month, which has been one of the fastest in my life. I arrived as scheduled, toting a yoga mat, a violin, and the small sum of the possessions I did not ship, and my sister and I immediately went for a drive down Old Seward to a sky bedecked with stars and a spray of northern lights.

Love is both emasculating and empowering--there is something about giving up a life for someone else that is both the most beautiful and terrifying thing in the world.

There was something emasculating about this thing we call love—here she was, in the airport on her way to Alaska, being frisked by a large red-haired female security guard. Here she was, arriving in Anchorage, tired and dirty at midnight, to her sister's teary eyes, to an embrace tight and desperate (I'll never let you go again). Here she was, on the side of the road, screaming to herself, the wind, the mountains, the never-ending sea of cars and their dark fumes, an open crate of nachos spilled before her like a star.

I spent the entire first week in a mode of culture shock and doubt, vacillating between feelings of loss and reconnection. To be with Beth again makes me feel whole and at home in a way no place ever could, yet the entire life I've left in San Francisco is still there, spinning on without me. It's the way I think it will be to die; to simply exit and allow the dance to rhumba on. I will miss things always about San Francisco--breaking out upon Ocean Beach during a storm, the fog rolling in over the bridge at night, the hills, the movement, the photogenic and ornate homes dollhoused along the side streets, the sea of beautiful people--but I am home now.

Much of Anchorage reminds me of where I'm from in the Midwest-- the small homes with tiny windows, the artists that stand out like thumbs and instantly recognize and welcome one another. The feeling that change is both necessary and possible aches in the streets against the settled practicality of hard working days. Family feels important here, unlike the city life which dissolves the need for roots and places in its stead the need for independent mobility.

She went out for what must have been eight hours, and she walked along the deserted streets, not another soul in sight. Just houses, small and mute, drab and unremarkable, the only details to be caught the notes of wind chimes, small hand prints in the concrete, the passing of bright automobiles. This place reminded her of her youth, of the yellow dinnertimes, of an almost forgotten sensation that our lives are as sediment in a fish tank, simply where they are by virtue of gravity, not will. It is a different place, not unlike all the others to where she's been, but so very different.

At the end of my second week, our art show, AB+ (previously and temporarily called Half), opened, and it was wonderful. The move--the weeks--had been stressful, but the opening was a point of recovery and success, a place where I met several truly amazing people in a special place with my sister's images framed with mine like caught air of balloons. Every now and then throughout the night, Beth and I would beam silently at one another from across the room, as if to say, "Look where we are! Look from where we've come." (This is a look we often share, when the same memories of our tiny Ohio home with muted dreams climb up within us like a weed, when we realize all over again that we are here, that the past is over.)

After spending the weekend with BA, a new truly wonderful person, I was notified that I have won a finalist award for the Narrative Poetry Prize, which will be my very first poetry publication. With letter in hand, I cried at the kitchen table; after all of the countless rejections--even some for the same pieces--I felt validated. It's as though I've been beneath the water and someone just let me back up in case I'm down there for a while again, which, undoubtedly, I will be. In all, I feel inspired right now, both "settled" and motivated at the same time.

I know what I want and who I am, my passions are clearly defined as they have been for years. Now, it's on.

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