Sometimes it’s a shoulder or a hand combing through hair. Always it’s a simple gesture or posture that says something about the person that the whole face never could. And I love that. I love the faceless portrait.
I watch the world through tinted glass — and often don’t really see it. I close the windows to control the climate and keep the gnats — and the world — at a distance. I drive past the same homeless woman walking our sidewalks several times a week, and have I ever stopped the car to chat? Only twice in nine years. My car is large and strong, and it insulates me from the world like an armored vehicle.
I am always seeking to hone my technique, to generate new and creative ideas, to find a different way of looking at the world. But like the construction workers, I have to build on what’s already there. I have to strike a balance, uneasy though it may be, of honoring the strength of the old, and creating a little chaos to bring in the new.
I could probably find a way to heat treat everything else as well. Not only my food, but my home and my relationships. I could boil my garden vegetables, throw money at my old house, distance myself from friends and family and neighbors. I could fence my children in with a hundred thousand rules.
Then they would be safe. Then they would be contained. Then they would no longer have the power to break my heart.
It was a few weeks into the class that I suddenly felt as though I was in the ocean, treading water with seasoned and well-equipped scuba divers. The language was the water surrounding me, warm and inviting, salty and buoyant but dark below. It was the darkness that drew me. As much as I tried to get in touch with the text, with the loss of Eden, I felt drawn to the darkness below and I swam in that.