April 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Potluck Waiting to Happen.

Roberto said, "Feel free to look around the studio while I take our other guests on a tour of Youngstown." I nod. "Thank you," I say. "Maybe I will."
Old school (literally, not in the current hip sense) windows  from waist high to 20 foot ceiling light the room with the afternoon sun.
Wondering how artists--or at least these artists--organize their homes, I poke around: I and the grey and whte cat.
On the black chalk board from the days when this cooperative was a public school, Annie has written, "Bienvenidos a Nuestra Casa," and since she's girly, she's drawn a heart. I chalk poet Saul Williams' words, "I drew a blank. I think it's the best thing I ever drew." The white chalk screetches like it did back in the day when I was in school, and we clapped our  hands to our ears to block sound's incision. In lavender, I chalk, "Paz y Justicia," thinking graffiti but achieving more of the ex-teacher's almost straight lines.
I sip my beer, rest in the silence, and look around. Every nook, every cranny is filled.
On top of the false wall is a bird cage. No bird. I think it's being stored there. Perhaps the memory or the plan of a place big enough for a cat and a bird.
There's a giant $1000 bill taped to the desk behind me. "I deserve to be wealthy," it says. Grover Cleveland, the president whose portrait centers the bill, has his tongue in his cheek, but you have to look closely to see it. I stand to see more. On the music stand, rests a matte framed black and white photo of a bridge and tall buildings in the snow. Is that New York City, where Robbie's from?
Pinned to a wall the size of three doors is a chaotic collage of photos, post-cards, art, and stuff. In one photo, Annie and Robbie hug and look at the camera. It must be cold because they're wearing parkas. A red and white post-card reads, "If what's in your dreams wasn't already inside you, how could you even dream it?" More photos of people, friends I guess, looking at the camera. A drawing of birds. A doorknob. Ah. This is a door.
There's a  framed photograph of a teenage boy turning to a man in an era of coat and tie photographs. Somebody's grandfther as a boy? Below it and to the left, a giant drawing--or is it a photo--of an open mouth: like Mick Jaggers mouth in its bigness but with smaller teeth and lips. And its more symmetrical, more oval. Cut out of posterboard is a homemade cloud shaped sign in a  girl's orange and green lettering:
i wish i knew
who i was
before i was ME.
Another doorknob. I don't look inside. That seems nosy beyond Robbie's invitation. I round the corner, towards the front door. A white cat curls on the bureau . I open  the drawers and the cat peeps in. I don't know why this doesn't seem too nosy, but it seems okay to me. The cat doesn't object. The left drawer is stuffed with white board markers. Fat ones and skinny ones. All of the colors. They don't smell like fruit like the ones I like best. Where's the white board? Thesepens must be for teaching about  poetry and prejudice. (Sounds like a Jane Austen novel: Poetry and Prejudice.)
The right drawer has seven pair of sunglasses for two pair of eyes. (I once heard that Seattleites buy the highest per capita number of sunglasses of any city in the country. Probably because Annie and Robbie live here.) And there's a yellow plastic Easter egg. No candy.
Hanging on  the wall above my head is life-sized red, yellow and blue Shiva (Is that Shiva, the lady with all the arms?)
Two steps and I pass the steps to the loft. Under the steps are shoebox sized cubbies for a gazillion pair of girlie shoes.I haven't seen any dirty clothes. They must be somewhere. Maybe they're in the loft.
I round the corner again. Ah. I'm at home here: a bookshelf crammed with books. Some books are up and down like you see in a library but lots are angled or stacked, like they were crammed here in a hurry. Maybe last minute straightening up? I wonder what this place looked like before the straigtening. I'll bet some of these books were by the couch and on the kitchen table.
The books are so tight that it's  hard to see what's here, but I can make out a few: Film Theory and Criticism, The Language of Life, The Zombie Survival Guide. I'm not sure why, but I think this is Robbie's shelf.
I walk on and on the wall is an antique mirror. I check my hair in the mirror. A single curl falls onto my forehead as usual. ("I knew a girl who had a curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid.") I wonder if I'm being very very good or horrid right now. Sometimes, it's  hard for me to tell.
I continue a few steps toward the kitchen corner. I pass another bookshelf. This one looks like Annie's: Uprooting Racism, Blood Child, Theatre of the Oppressed.
In the corner that is the kitchen, a table is covered with bowls of food: potluck waiting to happen.
Past the table, behind a screen, a computer on a clean desk.  Only a single card with a cat. Strange. Humans don't clean desks like that. Maybe that's where the books were.
In the middle of the room: two sofas, three chairs, a stool and a bench wait with me and the cat for the others to return. The cat jumps onto the back of the stuffed chair, warming his face in the sun. He opens his eyes--not wide, but as slits--and bobs his head up and down as he looks out the window. What does he see? I don't see it. He turns away and jumps down, ignoring me.
I hear voices in the hall. I return to my chair and sip my beer as if I've been here all along. Our guests return from their tour of the coop, and I must end my self-guided tour of their studio.
Thanks for opening your home, Annie and Robbie. Gracias para making the world that I get to live in a kinder and more fun place y para becoming part of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Is it true that we become the sum of all the lives who's paths we have crossed? And if that is so, do we absorb their best or their worst as we pass? My life has forever been changed by a lady I barely know and yet the gifts she had to share with me, she gave without charge. She walked quietly down the hall and as she passed, she imparted only the fewest of words. But she left more. Her courage dared me to be more than I am now. Her humor left a smile long after she was gone out the door. Her generosity made me humble. Her friendship left me wishing I had known her better. Sweet Amazing another friend once said on a solemn morning..............sigh! The Thinker


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