Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...

I last wrote in October. The season of mist and snow (but still not enough to satisfy me) came and went. In October, I said I'd write tomorrow, but I lied. Around that time, everything became too much, so I trimmed whatever I could from my life, and this blog was gristle. But here I am now, in April, the day before Easter.

It's a windy, rainy day. I call this Research Weather because the first day I ever did official, formal research for a class was on a day with weather like this. I wore a white knitted shirt I'd inherited from my glamorous Aunt Mary and a satiny tye-dyed orange/yellow/red skirt I'd sewn together myself. It was full and came to the floor, and the waistband was sewed on wrong-side out. And I wore brown gladiator sandals I'd inherited from my cousin, Mary's daughter, Cinda, who had decided they weren't her style. That became my favorite outfit because it always reminded me of that day.

I was in high school, working on my junior English research paper about Andy Warhol's Factory. My thesis sentence used the word "microcosm." I used the paper as an excuse to buy The Velvet Underground + Nico, which was life-changing. My father bought me a huge, heavy coffeetable book full of black and white pictures of people and happenings at the Factory. I was immersed. I wished and prayed and begged God to bring me to New York. (And, as you can see, he answers prayers.)

Back in the olden days, research was conducted using real, live, wooden card catalogues, microfilm, microfiche, hardbound periodicals on the second floor of the NSU library. I remember standing on the shaky round stools to reach books on the top shelves. I remember how my eyes would blur, watching the microfilm whirl by. I remember how cool I felt when I could use both microfilm and microfiche without a librarian's help. I remember opening the coffeetable book and finding a picture of Edie Sedgwick dancing with shadows at a Velvet Underground show, listening to them while I looked at it, putting on make-up and cooler clothes, trying to feel what it might have felt like for them, knowing I couldn't quite...that research can only take you so far, but farther than you could go by just casually observing.

My mother dropped me off at the library that morning. It was a Saturday. She picked me up around lunch. I changed into a red and white tie-dyed shirt and leather skirt she had made in the 1960s, and we went out to a gathering of artists and art-lovers who were eating and philosophizing and generally having a good time as they waited for a bust of potter Anna Mitchell to be fired.

It was not a time that I thought my mother was cool. She was the Maker and Enforcer of Rules. (Not that I had many...I had incredibly liberal parents who raised us with a minimum of interference.) But I talked to all kinds of people there who thought she was, and their praise began to convince me. And, best of all, I had something to talk about with all those art people: My research.

It was on a day with weather like this that I discovered how to dis-cover the mysteries of the world, to gaze at them, touch them, listen to them, put them into my own heart and mind, find they are even more mysterious than I originally thought. Research Weather is almost as good as mist and snow. Almost.