Thursday, October 13, 2011

Old Friends, Freezers, Memory

In New Mexico there was too much to write about.  Work hard as I could, I could still only get about a tenth of it down on paper, and a tenth is a generous estimate, and the paper wasn't paper, but this computer, this blog.  There's something I should tell you about blogs—at least about this one: they're a performance, they're theater, but you shouldn't distrust them because they sometimes transform a little sadness into a mammoth sobbing fest.  This morning I received a letter from a concerned reader.  This reader happened to be a friend of mine from pre-school.  Our mothers and a couple other mothers got together in the late 70s and formed a child sitting cooperative called "Play group."  On the appointed day of the week, one mother would take all the kids so that the other mothers could go about town and do whatever they couldn't do the rest of the week, including stay home and relax.  My mother, of course, is the industrious sort, so I am sure that she never used her days off to watch soaps.  I take that back; I know she watched "Days."  Anyway, my point is that this old friend wrote to me to cheer me up, said she'd noticed how sad the blog had become since I'd come home from New Mexico, and told me I should keep my chin up, my star will shine one day, I'm great.  I felt a little bad for having laid it on so thickly.  I've been sad and lonely, it's true, but I've also been having a ball turning that sadness and loneliness into blog content, and sometimes, apparently, I've been having too much of a ball.  I think I lost a sneaker last night.    

In New Mexico there was also a lot to photograph.  It was a pretty photogenic place.  I didn't take photographs constantly—there was too much work to do—nor did I constantly want to take them to jail perfection, but I did have the sense, that had I wanted to turn my trip into a photo safari, I would have been surrounded by an abundance of wildlife.  Like Eric, the plumber, and his lethargic dog.  Like the bear scat outside the front door.  The point is that abundance is relative.  What seems abundant to one person, seems shabby to another.  If the trip had been reversed, and I'd left my life in New Mexico to work on a small farm in Massachusetts, Massachusetts would have seemed amazing and New Mexico would have seemed shabby and boring.  The real truth is that for all the faith we put in imagination and possible realities, fact has one course, and in my case that course brought me back home to Massachusetts, not New Mexico or some other place, and Massachusetts looks, for having traveled, somewhat lovely and somewhat sad.  I'm down to taking pictures of my freezer.  I am writing as much as I can.

"My freezer is not such a bad freezer.  It's a very red white and blue freezer.  It's a freezer good for a patriot."  I say this to myself, and I feel a little bit stupid.  I am writing about my freezer, saying, "check out those frozen peas, they're 100% organic!"  But I know that a freezer can only hold so much interest, and that's the point of a freezer.  A freezer shuts down whatever life there is; it stuns all the biological processes and renders them inert.  A freezer is a kind of arrested development. The tomato sauce in those freezer bags may indeed be super sweet, but until someone removes one of those icy freezer bags, the sauce within will remain solid and cold.  Frozen sauce is somewhat like an old memory. It stays the same until you change it.  My old friend is married now with children, and I know that, but I mostly remember her on her birthday, wearing a spotted party hat and blowing out the candles atop a brown cake, about thirty years ago now, and this, really, from a photograph.    

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