Where Life and Longing Intersect

For the last month or two, I have been going to Casey’s Craft and drooling over a tiny red picture frame. I’m not sure what made me go back again and again. Perhaps the size… perhaps the color…or just a longing. Regardless, last week I walked in and bought it.

Even as I plunked down my cash, I didn’t know what I wanted it for. I just wanted it. And when  desire pesters me for so long without relenting, I usually listen. Nine dollars seemed like a fair indulgence.

When I got home, I put it on my desk in the studio, right beneath my favorite red block print. Though I left it empty, I felt happy each time I looked at it.

Surely something belonged in that frame.

In 1990, I conceived of a writing project: a memoir about my father and my relationship with him. I’ve been working on it ever since. The general structure of three parts has remained constant, but the voice and style has shifted as much as my determination to finish it. Sometimes it’s prose, sometimes poetry. I’ve written from the voice of a young girl and a mature adult. Months go by without any new words, then weeks of intense rewriting follow. Along the way, I started my first writing group and presented 30 pages of “finished” work. The reception was less than generous, and my efforts ceased.

Now, with Kelly‘s gentle prodding and gracious feedback, I have decided to resume the project. It’s not for general publication. It’s mostly for myself, to help me consider and reconsider my path to the present, and also to pass on to my nieces who never got to meet their grandfather. I want them to know who he was and better understand who I am. I consider it part of my creative work because the process of articulating such a complex relationship takes regular practice and courage. I want to do my best.

I was carrying the latest affirmation, “I will keep my work in mind”, as I immersed myself in activity this week. I thought about it as I did my paying work and was out in the sun patterning a boat top. I thought about it as I designed a new dance shoe bag with my friend Janice. As a self employed person, it seems as if my work is always in mind. So I changed the words a bit… I will keep my art in mind. That sounded like more fun.

And as I stared at the tiny red frame, I wondered how I might fill it to help me.

That was when the picture above shimmied into consciousness. Hmmm. The frame is a shadow box style with room for “stuff” inside. What if I put a copy of the picture of my dad and I along with some beach glass and some tiny wishing rocks? A perfect combination of memory and movement and noise… just enough inspire me to keep that memoir in mind. And perhaps, finish it.

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8 Responses to Where Life and Longing Intersect

  1. Katryna says:

    I’d love to read your stories of your parents Jeanne. It’s different hearing about them from the viewpoint of the younger sister (my mom). I have a few snippits of memory of him and your mother and would love to learn more about them.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. This makes me cry. In a good way.

  3. Jessica says:

    lovely. i am in love with that picture! whomever gave you ” less than generous feedback” should be scratched from your list! memoirs are so personal, they don’t fall in the same category as other writings.
    trying to keep mindful here too.

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