I met David almost 30 years ago. He was a defiant son-of-a-bitch, and I say that as a friend. A good photographer… he had a good eye for composition… but bored. Restless. I met him at his first gallery showing in a piss hole called Gliding Lights or some such horse shit. You know, track lighting, cheap burgundies you had to pour yourself, modern jazz piped in from a prison cafeteria. Avant garde stuff, if cliché was your deal. But it was a big deal for David. He was proud of his work, and rightfully so. But there was a coolness in his work, a detachment. Not a lack of passion, but a tightly reined-in version of it. He was a hard man to figure out. Aloof. Not because of any pretension, but because… I guess that’s the way he was built. An arm’s-length sort of man. He did like the wine, though. Well, he drank it. He drank more of it than anyone else in the room. Always a plastic cup in his hand, always swallowing deeply and coming back for more. His face looked like a polished apple, it was so red and waxy. Continue reading “First, you point (Part 2)”
The sky was the shade of a fresh blue crayon, melted rather than pressed onto paper. The color bled into the canvas, cloudless, vast. It spread over a cluster of distant hills; they could have been mountains, diminished and diluted, unimportant. The view was an exaggeration of normal perception. The landscape wasn’t particularly wide nor deep, but the earth was bullied into appearing smaller, subdued, shy. The sky overwhelmed everything, and it seemed unnatural in this small corner of corn fields and scrub pines. Perception, David said, is everything. He took the photograph years before he painted it. It was haunting; there was no other word. He revisited the place several times over the years, always at the same time of early evening, when the sun became invisible but still cast blurred colors. But the colors and shadings never matched. Sometimes beauty could not be duplicated anywhere other than in his imagination.
You’re 21-years-old, stained with wine, and you mouth the only word you can remember: Ruth.
David, you don’t talk to me much anymore. Is everything all right?
I’m fine. I’ve been busy. Things are different now, you know. Dad… and then Grandpa… and now you leaving next. Nothing to talk about.
“Sir? We’ll be landing soon.”
“Dude, you drifted off on me there. I thought you passed out or something. It’s been a long haul.”
“I’m fine,” I said. “I’ve been busy.”
Collie stared hard at me, and then laughed. “Busy man. Buckle up, dude, we’re almost there.”
We shook hands at the United Airlines ticket counter. I never knew his real name.
I wrote the original and unvarnished version of this around 5:45 this morning… the line about watercolors stayed with me through most of last night and I wanted to get it down before I forgot. I thought it felt a little too purple, but didn’t have the time to really give it a thorough rinse before leaving for work. I decided to revise it a little bit; I’m not really a good morning writer.. not before my second cup of coffee, anyway. It’s a mood, a memory, of an old man remembering his finest summer, the summer when everything changed for him. This revisions are minor, but I think it cuts it a little closer to the bone. And my wife did point out that cornflowers are blue, not yellow. Oops. – Steve
No one ever knew that I might have been in love with her.
Even now, as I feel the cold bite into my joints, and see the nonsensical kaleidoscope of snow as it buries rooftops, (the flakes dancing like lunatic sprites), I can still feel that summer. I don’t have to close my eyes or imagine those fields buried in green and yellow. I can feel it. I can see it. The warmth, from blankets to floor, spread like cornflowers, blue and shimmering.
That summer was a time to put away crayons and create watercolors. The lines inside didn’t matter; I was creating my own lines, and the colors were deep and wet.
Summer, after a hard and prolonged winter. It never lasts as long as it should. There was a fair weight of rain that year, but it was a kind rain, lilypad rain, forming wide green puddles in the driveway that glowed phosphorescent at dusk. Continue reading “Human Anatomy: Relativity”