It’s early. It’s already poured. She’s on the sand at North Beach, and about to swim. The sun is just now breaking out from behind the yellow and black clouds that have been stacked in the eastern sky since dawn, swollen bruises dissipating into fine pinkening streaks. The air is still thick from the early rain, and now too dissipating in the breeze, that ever-present lift promising something soothing, its soft balm reaching the soul with its merciful cool. So often without cloud cover to temper the heat, something else has to.
Two pelicans are fishing, flying fast against the wind and suddenly diving into the sea for its fruit. There are others here too at this early hour—in fact quite a few: solo swimmers; early-bird lovers walking along the watermark where sand is sea; kids who might have slept the night on the beach and who have just woken to this splendor; a granddad tugging lightly at his line in the water, teaching his grandson about fishing; a jogger running backwards; a man standing alone with his hands clasped behind his back as he watches the low lapping tide. One of the kids has walked into the ocean where there’s a sandbar close to shore, and he looks like he’s walking on water.
Metaphor is everywhere, she thinks—the grand dramas of life at hand and underfoot in most every gesture, if you look closely. She leaves this afternoon, with no idea what comes next.
For now, she’s the solitary woman who sits at the tideline facing the coming day, writing on the dampened pages of her notebook. Six red buoys bob in the surf to her south, and she remembers them from last time; she’s used them in her art, a photo piece about her broken heart and longing. She’s never told anyone how scared she is, probably because the fear is so strange that she can’t find the words. One buoy is much brighter than the others, maybe the oldest and lightened from the sun, or the newest and its colour still fully saturated. They flash against the cyan water, vibrant surprises that reveal themselves as the waves surge and fall.
She gets in the water, and with shallow strokes moves over the sandbar, swimming away from shore toward the horizon where she’s been watching the coming of the day. She rolls onto her back, and with her limbs flung wide, floating, she’s half on top of the world and half beneath its surface. She opens her eyes, and past the tips of her toes she sees the darkening skies in the west, large clouds gathering fast in greys from smoke to ash, and she hears the boom and clap of thunder coming from inside them. She keeps an eye fixed on the west, watching for lightening while the eastern sun warms the top of her head as she floats. She flips over and paddles further. She gets out far, far enough to find herself in deep water; but the wonder she thinks, and that no one can see, is that her feet are still touching ground, her toes tucked into the fine soft sand, the rippled ocean floor slightly shifting shape as the waves roll around her above. Since arriving three weeks ago, this gentle exfoliant has removed the rough parts of her soles, healing other cracks and blemishes that have been part of her for so long too.
As she comes back toward shore, she stands up and walks through the moving tide. She feels something under foot and reaches down for it. In her hand she holds a piece of oolite, a porous fossil-like thing, smooth and primitive at the same time. Made up of such things as minerals and coral and flint and clay. Some call it terrestrial detritus, which offers her some relief in her decision to claim it as her own, feeling like she’s rescuing something rejected, knowing she’ll love it with the tenderness one can have for the idea of home. She closes her fingers around this strange piece of soluble rock, but its misshapen form is slightly bigger than her palm, and so she can only cup it in an loose hold; and there, between her fingers, she notices two little mollusks nestled together inside a large pore that burrows into the center of this strange orb. They're both open.
She comes back to land with the little piece of sand and sea in her hand--a solid imperfect globe, a small and perfect world for two.
I'm now about as far way from Vancouver as I can get and still be on the North American continent - I'm in Miami. Here, a final section of a current project will come to join what is currently "in progress". This series is part of a large, on-going meta-series (if you will), entitled seamlessness, and it joins with another meta-series, iamMIA; and another, pilgrimage. It starts with two photo works of mine that I then had printed on silk crepe de chine; with these fabrics I made a dress and a top. Both photos include layers of me in Miami and me in Vancouver. Here in Miami, I'll wear these pieces in the water as the next part in the series. The work is about belonging, about finding home and fully landing there - body, mind, soul, and spirit together in one place.
Here's where it is now, and I've order the pix here chronologically:
Today is my father's birthday.
Martin Thomas Welch was born September 12, 1926.
He would have been 88 years old today.
At home in the US, he was known as Marty; when living in Canada he was known as Tom because he lived in Vancouver's Chinatown where people had trouble pronouncing Marty.
In the unusual configuration that composes my family, as a child I sometimes referred to him as Papa Tom to distinguish between him and my foster father. In person, though, I always called him Daddy, even in adulthood.
I often wondered why I continued with the childlike term Daddy - then, when returning to Miami last winter on a family pilgrimage I realized that everyone in my family refers to their father as Daddy - even my 92 year-old aunt.
So, today, in honour of my father, I'm going out for donuts. Daddy loved going to Krispy Kreme on NE 167th St. in North Miami; there he made friends, paid for others though he was poor himself, and once brought a homeless woman to my Grammy's house to help the woman out.
There's no Krispy Kreme in Vancouver so I'm going to a Tim Horton's. I think Daddy would approve.
RIP Daddy. I miss you so much, and love your more.
(PS: This photo was part of a piece I had published in the excellent photography magazine, Ciel Variable, automne 1991, a few months after Daddy's death; the image was accompanied by a poem I wrote entitled "mon père".)
One thing ends, another begins.
I'm closing my business down, the one I've focussed on for the past 3 years. ad lib has been my clothing design company, a project full of interest to me. I've loved it.
And now I'm leaving it.
I start something new tomorrow, income-earning-wise that is.
When my store closed a year ago today, I was already into the next thing in my personal practice - this right here: zoetrope.me
I'll always make things. It's in my blood and my brain to do so. I'm born this way.
My ultimate motivator is beauty - making beauty, making what I imagine beauty to be in a broad sense: as part of living well, in gesture and endeavour, expressed through all the ways in which we engage the world around us day by day—beauty writ large.
I understand clothing on this grander scale, as more than how we cover ourselves: it's about how we carry ourselves, and how we conduct ourselves, culminating, most importantly, in how we concern ourselves with the world around us and how we care for it--it’s being conscious and conscientious.
I will now transpose this concern for beauty into other concrete forms of work that I pursue. In this external one, this new income-earning thing I start tomorrow; and in all my creative work making things.
Most importantly though, I'll continue to bring my concern for beauty into how I behave. Towards others. Towards myself. Towards the space I occupy, large and small.
And so it goes.
It’s the 2nd super moon of the summer; this one—the middle of three—is the fullest of them in the sky, and the closest to us down here.
Saturday night at dusk I went to the park next door to pay my respects, and stayed till full night fell. There were only a few of us out. Four guys on the next bench over were drinking beer from cans, playing guitar and singing together; they had the lyrics to “Lying Eyes” shining before them on an iphone. Their voices weren’t great, but who cares. They asked me to join them, and when I lay down later on the grass to take pictures of the sky, noticing me there, one asked if I was ok.
I was playing with a camera I have on loan till Wednesday, one passed along to me so I can decide if I like it enough to buy. With a few technical things figured out, I then played with the moon.
Out again in reverence Sunday night, the air much warmer and soft on bare skin, the park’s slope was fuller. People were out to look up at the sky. There were small groups, some on blankets, others solitary, like me.
No camera this time, I listened to music: Benediction. (click the link to listen)
A plane passed overhead again, to the north of the moon, following the same flight path as the night before, at the same time.
A shade of cerulean hovered at the edges of the moon, bracketing it—I could see it especially when I looked from my peripheral vision.
Resting on the dry grass of the hill, with the warm air all around, and neighbours out and near, the mottled moon on its slow rise in the sky above all of us out gathered willingly below, we watched its passage through our lives tonight.
I remembered what being in love feels like, feeling myself there falling in love again with everything, anew.
It’s love made of unconditional willingness to be a part of it all, coming after forgiveness, or acceptance, of everything that’s come before, even if that everything’s not all understood, or, in fact, not understood at all.
It all comes surrender me to absolute mystery, where relinquishing of needing anything, even for a moment, busts me open to knowing about my own freedom.
Last night super moon, summer in the city. Midnight was warm. Lush life, air itself.
It was my Mom's birthday - she would have been 84.
I want to lay my head down in God’s lap, or lie on Jesus’s couch safe in love. Instead, today I'll walk across the sand flats at Spanish Banks - it’s the lowest tide of the year, in concert with the super noon. My pilgrimage. I’m going to wear a silk shift that has a print of the ocean and sky on it, with a freighter on the horizon line.
I’ll fit right in. And that's what I seek. Seamlessness.
I'm at my YVR gate. I'm leaving for Miami, my first time back since my father's memorial in April 1991 after he took his own life. He was 64. I was 29. Ten months later my mother would take her's, but I didn't know that yet, not then.
So, I broke more rules last night, and was even better at it 2nd time 'round.
I saw Frances Ha, in a bone fide movie theatre, and treated myself to a coke and popcorn. I then meandered home along the seawall on South False Creek.
At Spyglass ferry dock, I came across one of the public pianos, and a young man was playing the entire soundtrack from Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, barefoot. I sat on a bench and listened for a while, watching a few skiffs skim across the creek dodging sailboat squats.
Further on, I bought a cup of coconut ice cream and continued meandering. Close to home I jumped in a car2go because I was tired, and was then completely enchanted by a song on CBC's The Signal, so much so that I sat in the parked car to hear the song finish.
Le Fabuleux Hier Soir de Zoe
Here's that Signal song, inexplicably called Obvious Bicycle, which is a great title. The band is Vampire Weekend.
France Ha, by the way, is great. I think it's the most accomplished film by Noah Baumbach so far. Co-written with Greta Gerwig, the dialogue resonates and elucidates, even for those of us past our 20s. And Gerwig's Frances finely conveys the complexity of drifting when it gets away from us, and how a returning to self can be as light and gradual as the initial cutting loose. Sometimes without any one particular, discernible moment, or gesture, or decision to do so, we come back, very much in the way we drifted off - an accumulation, through time, composed of circumstances and gestures and decisions, none of which mounts to enough on its own. It calls to mind a poem I wrote about a boyfriend I once had, D:
to drift is not to flow
to rock is not to roll
to want is not to will
What rules were broken?
Not so much rules as my practice of living on a very modest budget. So I splurged, intentionally. I took myself out, with a promise to do so free of worry and regret.
Frances Ha went to Paris for a weekend. I went to the movies.