I’m going to start this without knowing where it will land so here goes. I’m seeing an image in a movie — someone gets caught in the mud, and then their clothes are sticky and thick with the brown goo, and then it dries and cakes. I feel that heaviness — an outer crust that restricts movement and is cumbersome. Like wearing a coat made of bricks. I think the muddy, calcified jacket is something I’ve worn since childhood. I’ve been aware of it, but unconsciously concluded it was permanently attached, and I had no choice to but to get used to it.
The air we breathed in our family in Mill Valley in the “mid-century” (as the 1950s and 60s are now called) was lonely and loveless. Mom and Dad were injured humans who couldn’t properly parent. Because children need reasons for things, in order to make sense of the unimaginable, what I came to believe was that love was not available for me. Other people could have it, but I was behind the door when love got handed out. In my mind scarcity was a reality, and my only choice was to adapt to it, and, as I was told, be grateful I had food and shelter.
There is something about the sweet and loving connection I have with my brother that is healing me and I think it’s healing him too. Mud and sticks and dried leaves and caked-on dirt are washing off. We have intimate conversations about dying (I thought my heart might quit a few weeks ago) and about family and about our dead sisters. He tells me things he remembers that trouble him and I tell him the same. We confirm and agree on what Mom and Dad were like.
He will be going at some point — he wasn’t supposed to last through October, let alone May, and may get a CT scan soon, even though he’s in hospice care, to see why his longevity after a very dire diagnosis of aggressive brain cancer continues.
In the meantime, with Jamey’s help, I’m removing some of the outerwear that weighs me down. It’s the damnedest thing.
[About this painting. I was invited to teach a private watercolor lesson to a woman I met months ago; she was outside Frank Bette Center in Alameda with her darling greyhound. I’ve had several greyhounds in my life so I introduced myself, and the artist asked me into her home where we could paint, and where I instantly fell in love with Naples who fell asleep with his head on my foot. She had these flowers in a vase which we used for subject matter.]
10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper = $90