Friday, August 22, 2008

"Feelings/Nothing more than Feelings"

I woke up today, early, feeling crummy. What had woken me, and kept me awake was my mind working at how I could, if I was able to, transport a fan I'd left at my former apartment back to New Jersey after my next upcoming visit. I still have stuff there, and have been toting a bit of it out, here and there, over the past couple weeks. After the last visit, I still haven't unpacked, partly because I haven't made the time to, and partly because I'm doing fine without all the stuff in that suitcase, so there's been no immediacy attached to that task. There isn't much immediacy attached to any task, really. But I leave in forty-four days. So something is clearly amiss.

My mother lately has been on me to decide what exactly I'm taking and what pieces of clothing I have in the house that I can be rid of permanently. She's seeing this, I think, as an opportunity to purge things. I cannot bring myself to even naturally think about packing, let alone force myself to focus on throwing things out. I've always been pretty materially-based, no matter how petty or un-yogic that may seem. I've always been a little messy. I have a lot of "stuff"--I keep getting reminded of this every time I move, of how much useless "stuff" I own. I am an only child, pretty spoiled I don't mind telling you, and "stuff" became important at some point. And I'm used to getting what I want (sometimes it takes longer than I expect it to, but most of the time I still get it). Now I'm stuck with so many things I wanted, but don't need. For instance, I can't keep track of how many books I own that I haven't read. I was at some one's apartment a few weeks ago, and I remarked on their collection of DVDs and VHS tapes--they had maybe twelve DVDs, and something, again, just over ten cassettes. This person has some years on me, and I was curious as to how he hadn't acquired more over the time of our age difference. He said he wasn't one who was really into owning things. It struck me then, that this idea had never occurred to me. I'm too much a materialist and grew up to support capitalism well--I am, of course, an American. But now, here I am, awake in bed just after five AM, wondering to myself:

LEA (V.O.):
Is it humanly possible to transport a baseball bat, a 9lb Body Bar, another HUGE suitcase full of stuff, and a large, rather cumbersome indoor fan, which I could really use in a room that gets no real ventilation? Is there some kind of bungie-attachment I can work out?

Then I look around my room and wonder:

Where's the shit going to go, anyway?

Having moved in some capacity almost every year for the past six years, at about the rate of two times per year (move in, move out), the thought has often crossed my mind that it would just be easier if there was a fire that engulfed everything, just letting me start over without anything. As some one who's seen a house after it's been burned to the ground--my grandparent's house back in the mid-nineties--I can tell you from experience, the reality of a fire is pretty horrifying. Yet, there I am again, with the same old fantasy of me with a matchbook, striking, striking out my whole past and maybe part of my present, just to lose the sense of baggage that comes with it all. Just dropping a match on the floor after I pour out some gasoline.

Helping some one packing up their apartment a few weeks ago, the movee talked about a married couple she had known who had been having problems, which ultimately ended in their separation. The couple had a couple of children and owned a house, and one day picked up and went their separate ways (I'm guessing one of them took the kids), abandoning the house and everything in it. Just left. The movee and her boyfriend drove over to clean it out--I can only assume to help sell it--to clean out this ghost house, that still had toys in the children's rooms. They just threw everything into garbage bags as quickly as they could--if they'd lingered at all, it would have got to them, that feeling of eeriness, of disquiet that comes from seeing rooms of things unused and in this case strangely out of context: a family home, complete with accessories, but without a family.

(And what about that vintage dress at Eleni's? She'd meant to try and mend it. How am I to get that back?)

I feel like Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth, all her things on her back, or Steve Martin, leaving Bernadette Peters in The Jerk (God I love that scene). All this useless crap, and to what end?

Among the things left in the New York apartment are undelivered love letters, far past their time to be sent. What am I to do with those? I kept them because every time I went back to them, I was moved by what I read there, thought "These are real," and couldn't dare part with them. But what are they now but sentiments spent in vain, more so because they were never read by the addressee rather than the hopelessness that had surrounded that affair. What am I to do with them? I thought about using them for artistic fodder, but A.R. Gurney already wrote that play.

And the journals--I journal CONSTANTLY, and have built up quite the collection over time, though much of my journalling I'd like to forget. Another fantasy bonfire. But somehow, that seems like more of a crime.

All of these questions about things and where they go, what's useful and what's not, are elevated even moreso by the idea that: I'm not coming back. When I initially started telling people about going, one of the first, and what turned out to be the most common reaction was: "

You're not coming back, are you? You're going to find some British man, get married, and you're not going to come back.

Granted, this had been the childhood dream, compacted with guaranteed seasons at the RSC, and some project involving Judi Dench, and no doubt a West End revival of some American musical, of which I would be perfect for, no doubt. But time and experience have taught me, things don't always work out the way you plan. I can't bring myself to think about a lifetime I haven't had yet, don't know how to pack for it. And who can really plan for life anyway?

My parents have this saying whenever they leave for a trip, "If we forgot something, we'll just buy it when we get there." This covers those little inconsequentials like soap, hair pins, extra underwear, golf balls. My worry is that I'll forget something important, something vital. But as I look around at all of my unused things I wonder, "What, at all, is vital?"

As I said earlier on in this entry, I've always been a bit of a mess. By this I mean I've always been messy. My room has always been cluttered--not dirty but in disarray. I could use the assistance of a good Feng Shui agent. On the more messier and perhaps more "morbid" days, I have occasionally wondered, "If I died today, what would they think of my room?" Very much like that age old advice of always remembering to wear clean underwear, just in case you end up in an emergency room. And that always bothered me, knowing people wouldn't be able to just box things up, but that they'd have to clean up after me first. So now I'm functioning under the impression that I have to clean my room out right now for the rest of my life, just in case popular opinion's right, and I don't come back.

This entry is obviously uncharacteristic of what I try to do here. I try to write about art I'm working on, or what I think works about art that I see. However, not having a project currently in the works, combined with the isolation I've been feeling out in the boonies, have given me time to process more what's going on with me. And being aware for the most part of who's reading this blog thanks to Google Analysis (I see you, Alan!) and comments on entries, I feel like I'm expressing these thoughts to the people that I'd do so to normally, so I feel less guilty about the indulgence. And these are supposed to be letters to you all, of a sort. I guess whatever you have to tell yourself.
And now I think I'll make breakfast because that always feels like an accomplishment. And I know I don't have to think about packing any cookware. So it's safe.

Beaker: play me out.


clayton said...

this post is sad...yet uplifting. don't ask me what i mean by that, because i'm not sure i know. i can commiserate with nearly every sentiment in it, having just moved an entire apartment myself, as well as living in a place where i have no idea how much longer i will stay (though as time passes, the answer become clearer). moving is a bitch, no matter how you look at it, but the new and different opportunities that come with it are invariably exciting...and who knows where it will go from there? we can only imagine.

p.s. one of our dinner parties sounds diVINE right about now. i could use one too.

p.p.s. note the ama pictures jill just posted on facebook. jesis.h.christ. THOSE were the days. (or were they?)

Lea Maria said...

I'm hoping the sadness comes from the sentimentality that can some from moving, while the uplifting-ness comes from the recognition of needing to leave--or at least the fact that we are going through the same thing. Oh Clayton, those days of AMA--how simple things were then! And yet, of course, not. I wouldn't trade our past few years of experience to go back to that time. But at least we didn't have to think about leases, etc. And of course back then we wouldn't have been able to split a large bottle of Yellowtail between us over a Mediterranean dish. Not legally, anyway. :)

Miss you, sweetie.

JustJacqui said...

So this is a good indicator of the type of kid I was...when I was in 6th grade I learned that Holocaust came from the Greek holos kaustos, which is to burn completely. I took my diaries I had kept at that point and decided everything I had written was too sad for an eleven year old and burned them in the bath tub, with a lighter I had stolen from my father. Woof! Woe is the turmoil of adolescence.

New beginnings are terrible and wonderful and I can imagine how much easier it is for everyone else to be excited for you when you're the one actually doing all the moving. But having said that I can't help it, I am SO happy for you, and also completely curious about the love letters. I have a collection, sometimes you find them in estate sales and on lost cocktail napkins. A good love letter is a lost art. Hang on to them, my dear.