Sunday, December 30, 2012

Small gestures over time

[Last night, I couldn't sleep. I dismantled a failed tiny basket and used its parts to make a new one with old cords of patterned Japanese paper whose color ran all over my fingers and the spokes.] There is so much I have been considering for the last month that I can't sleep at night because I feel like my head is going to explode. It's growing pains, and I am always astounded by how much I still have to learn. Most of it revolves around this theme:
  • Where the hell is this ride taking me and am I supposed to sit in the driver's seat or passenger's seat or backseat and why do I feel like I'm in the trunk a whole lot more than I'd like to be?
In 2006, I went to Art Farm and met Jami. I had no idea what to expect, except that she was way cooler than me, so I was slightly terrified. She turned out to be like the big sister I never realized I could have used. She immediately took me under her wing, drove me not only to get groceries (I was the only car-less one), but to go to town so we didn't go stir crazy, go thrift shopping, explore, get stuck behind horses in the dirt roads, and eat at Ruby Tuesday's (where she taught me that it was okay to cut the burger in half and take it home, and that it was equally okay to eat it the rest of it within an hour or two of getting home). It was my first residency, and her second, and she was skilled at fully inhabiting a new place and learning all of its quirks and settling all the way in. She was in charge of the chickens and their eggs and she baked so many pies. I didn't realize there was a garden we could really eat out of until she showed me how much fun it was to dig up potatoes (I mostly butchered them with the shovel) and found bits of broccoli still growing. She stayed up late to help me with a big milkweed project, digging out the middles of the woody stems because I asked her to, even after the others had stopped, even though it turned out I was SO WRONG about which part of the plant I was supposed to be using. She was fun, and funny, and challenging, and kind, and she knew how to work. I remember sitting on the roof of a barn while she talked to me about a time growing up when she was deformed, fat, and smart.

Not only was she the first real live working writer that I had met, but she really believed in what I was doing. I got to follow her career and though she never hid her struggles, she didn't wallow in them. The morning she was leaving at the end of her residency, she came upstairs to the loft where I was still in bed, and wrote me a check that was bigger than I had seen (and bigger than checks I have seen since), saying that she wanted to commission a piece of art. She hung it on one of her huge walls in NYC and I was shocked. We met up once every year or so in the city to catch up, shop for dresses, eat, whatever, while I always got the same message and feeling of support from her. Once she loaned me her car for a trip to D.C., recommended an acupuncture place that was close to where I used to work, and of course advised me on my book and a million other things. Lightning-fast responses, succinct, intelligent, loving.

I read her first book on that farm in Nebraska. Her second on a plane to and from who knows where. Her third in a hotel suite in Miami. They all pulled in the same way; she knew how to move and shape a story. She listened to her characters. Then she got really excited about the fourth, and I remember sitting in bed with my computer when she emailed me a draft to read. I noticed one typo and one place where I was slightly confused. But otherwise, it was a whole new level altogether, and I was excited for her. So happy to see her growth. The last time we met, she knew it would launch in the fall so probably I would not see her then b/c it would be a crazy time. AND HAS IT BEEN CRAZY. The world has finally acknowledged her in the beautiful way that she has deserved for a while. And she has been receiving this love so very graciously. What's even better is that she is still the same person she was before the wild critical and public acclaim and she still says it like it is; her values are tested and solid.

All that to say,
  • I am so grateful for my friends, especially
  • friends who can teach you how to become an even better friend, and
  • friends in creative fields who support each other.
And, of course,

2 comments:

  1. this is wonderful. i will try to read jami's book. venture to say you're soaring along on wings looking down with humor at that car that's driving wildly, looking for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. onesmallstitch6:22 PM

    I think we've met in the trunk

    ReplyDelete

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