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Main | Get Going »
Thursday
Jan312019

get going: part two

The color spectrum infiltates my wardrobe. Always, I avoid black. I've no desire to appear as a well-dressed mourner. Though, I do qualify. My brother dies in 1989. Three decades later, I’m in red, orange, yellow and burgundy. On my feet, pink, green and brown flowered boots. I'm watching “Eating Animals, ” a 94-minute documentary about pigs, poultry and cattle. Leaving me to consider consuming more plant based food.       

It’s December 6, 2018.  12:35 pm. As the closing credits roll, the audience applauds. We’re invited guests, on a list of frequent documentary-goers. I, for one, thirty-to-forty years older than the rest. At the reception,  eating Frank's free-range turkey, featured in the movie, kale and mushrooms, I talk to the producer and director.  When a guy with an extraordinary look crosses my line of vision. Quick. I have to say something to him.   

“You’ve the most hair on any human being I’ve ever seen.”  He says, “I’m Canadian.” I say, “That’s it.” We laugh. A sign. I can talk to him. And who is he exactly? A part-time philosophy professor. On a student visa, researching his PH. D. Topic: human ethics inside the animal industry. “Could there be any?” I’m thinking, as his eyes drop from looking at my face to checking out the rest of me. There’s not a hint between us of any sexual frisson. I'm way to old to be a cougar. What is it?    

He asks, “May I have your phone number to give to girlfriend? Who's also Canadian. With great hair. Here on a student visa. Studying at the New School. Documentary film making. She’s looking for a human subject for her major project. A video. Maximum twenty minutes. How color influences behavior. She’s already proven herself. Letting clients in a men’s shelter, on East Third Street, paint their walls their favorite colors. Mostly using tones of blues and greens. The case worker reports an uptick in tranquility." 

It's fine with me. I give him my particulars. Go home. Throw up. Maybe it's the movie. Or some larger purge not yet made known to me.             

The next day, Caroline, the “girlfriend” texts. She’s seen my Instagram feed. She wants us to meet. We do, December 8 at 3pm. That's when she's inside my apartment. Giving me a book. All About Colour. Written by her mother. The word color with a u. Her whole family's Canadian. Then attaching a microphone to my bra, an amplifier to my waist, putting a camera on a tripod. She says, " Speak stream of consiousness. I don't care. Maybe a throughline will pop up. I need one to hang my footage. "     

“Color has its own implications. It brings us together. Wrenches us apart. When my friend gets a dire medical prognosis, I say, 'Surround yourself with white light. White's the color of healing. It helps me.' I'd talk to a rock, if I could get a response. I'm 44. I become an only child. My brother dies at 41. Our Hansel and Gretel bond broken. I'm just coming out of the woods."     

Caroline steps to the side. Sobs. For a second. Contains herself. She says. “My brother dies January 2,  2018. He’s 27. I’m 32. We made films together.  He’d do camera work and editing. I’d do production.  As a test, I learned his job. ” I say, “Get over thinking you’ll get over it. Every perception gets filtered through this lens of loss. Whatever camera you use. "     

We meet again, December 22. At a Chinese restaurant. Caroline wants scenes of me eating. I'm onto sweet potato sesame balls. Confessing, " I used to eat dry bagels, dry cereal, dry fruit. Anything to sate my appetite. I didn't connect food with well-being. Until an acupuncturist reads my tongue. 'What you eat? You dehydrate. You could die.' That same day, a truck driver sticks his head out of his cab's window, as I dart across the street on a red. 'Hey lady. Don’t you value your life? ' "   

Which is when a man, sitting at the table to my right, with a two day old beard, missing several teeth says,  “Our reality’s in flux. Seeing, believing mediated through prejudice and experience. All subjective fodder. Some making no sense. I want to know, who are you to each other? Mother, daughter, grandmother,  granddaughter, teacher, student?  What?”  

"This is our second encounter. Color's our common bond. " I say.  His response, “I’m a graduate of the New School. In economics. Our county's losing its lustre.  Except you two. Your intergenerational communication. I'm getting a kick out of that. Most of us solated. Inside a family unit. I’ve got two kids.  One’s an expert on water pollution. Teaching at a university, with wife and kids. My other son, rarely leaves the house." 

He gets closer to me. “We’re about the same age. I'm guessing. How'd you keep your identity intact?.” I say, “I tried everything. Everything felt as if I'm wearing an ill-fitting dress. I had no more options left." He gives me a kiss. Pays the check. Leaves a tip. Goes out.    

Holidays intercede. January 12, Caroline's camera's on. I'm taking stuff out of my closet. Hoping to discard some. I'm disappointed. Most of what I have, I like. Onto January 19. The Women’s March. We've every intention of tagging along. At least we say that aloud. But we keep strolling. The camera going. I'm saying, "There are no leaves on the trees. That's why I'm multi-colored." At  Central Park West and 77th Street. The group's way south at 69th. Which is when I say, "The sign that most intrigued me, at the first march, Donald Trump likes his steak well done. Enough said. I go over to the man who's holding it up high. I ask.'What does that mean?' He's tells me he's a chef at a New Jersey steakhouse. His buddy works at 21. Trump's in there with his family after he’s nominated. That’s how he wants his steak done.    

Evidence. Indeed. We are what we eat.          

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Reader Comments (6)

Love it. Great story from a great storyteller. It’s you.

February 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

Enjoyed this greatly, Jane. I've always loved your color choices, and last night I finished ordering photographs for a solo show at Raven's Wish Gallery here in Janesville, Wisconsin, this spring. I was determined to get in lots of color. I think I've succeeded. Hanging the show will be fun--how to hang the different colors. I love, too, the people you meet, the conversations you have, the thoughts they lead you to. Happy New Year!

February 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDen Adler

Keep your spine flexible; your heart open. Watch what follows. Sometimes I’n in shock myself. 🙏❤️👁

February 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Color as a bulwark against loss and grief or a response or way to live with it
Black for mourners
Where is Caroline going with colour? I guess we'll have to wait for future posts and the video
And did the guy missing teeth pay your check?

February 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Wollens

A colorful person makes for interesting encounters and you certainly are colorful!

February 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I noticed your intergenerational communication ability when my children were very young. You talked to them, you listened to them. They loved you.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

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