I just deposited my computer with the professionals who are said to be professionals, with a grumpy 29 year old, beer gut billowing over the counter, eyebrows low.
36 euros just to look at it. Then, we'll talk.
"Is there anything on it you need?"
Let's rewind two years ago, now, to a younger version of myself who had just returned from an adventure and had to get to the unpleasant task of unpacking a new apartment. I was standing in front of my bookshelves, ones that I'd bought, I don't know, four, five houses ago? And after putting half of the books up sat down on the wood floor and started crying. It just seemed so heavy all of the sudden, having so much stuff to carry around with me. It all seemed really pointless, the act of owning books, having a library, a big closet, two sets of dishes. I wanted to be free.
Slowly I started distributing things out, the way people do before they die. First the most treasured things went back into boxes. Children's book collection, old photographs, things that had been given to me by people who are gone. Most of it I tried to work seamlessly into my parents collection, so as not to make a glaring "my daughter dumped all her shit on us" impression on the attic or spare bedroom. Finally I was selling, until one day all of the remains were scattered out on the lawn and things I never thought I would see walk away did just that, and with my blessing. A vintage radio that my parents didn't have any use for, Chinese chests from my grandfather's house, books I used to think were sacred, art supplies I thought were useful - even now I'm trying to remember it, the scene of all of my earthly belongings on the lawn of Hazard Street in Houston, and I can't for the life of me remember something that I parted with and am feeling any loss.
I let it go, and it felt great.
I felt light as a..
swift as a....
free as a...
Wondering honestly if I could go through the rest of my life just like that. Everything I needed in a suitcase and a backpack and able to roll to where my heart lead me.
I'll tell you what made it a lot easier was that I had this little red laptop, a gift from my generous father, a Macintosh Airbook in keeping with the "traveling light" theme of the endeavor. I loaded up my artwork, music, old photographs, some creative writing I've never bothered showing anyone, phone numbers, photoshop (oh blessed blessed photoshop) and really I was very happy with it. It had a little camera and I downloaded Skype. Once every other week or so I'd find some hole with wireless internet and talk to my family, console my grieving mother.
When I was anxious I used it as my diary, just opening textedit and expelling my thoughts without censorship. I'd take a good look at them when I was through and, if it was my druther, hit DELETE and make them disappear. My own verbal zen sand painting.
Each leg of my journey could be seen by opening up iphoto. First, a few pictures from the last Thanksgiving I was at home, cutting then directly into Holland. Amanda and I. Us going to museums, eating bread in Amsterdam bakeries, standing in front of gray, drizzly canals. Then the pictures are all indoors, the weeks before Christmas spent with the Klaasens. Their children lighting the tree, Laura lying on her back and lifting them like airplanes. Then me on a train, the first pictures of Greece, my first walks around the city, my ongoing fascination with graffitti. Then the hotel I lived in. Then the people I was meeting. Next the ancient places I was being shown. The black bus. G. Greek road trips. My first trip back to Texas. The day we found out Erin was having a girl. New Years in Terlingua. Looking through these photographs, I start feeling like someone who was young and now am old.
I had a file on my computer called "fairy dust," used exclusively for special photographs and collected artwork that puts me into a great mood. There were assemblages and automatons and carousel horses suspended in midair, Victorian engravings, abandoned mansions,black and white pictures of 1920's opera divas..It was a collection of eye candy, the walls of my imaginary house, my Disneyworld.
I'm writing all of this because it's possible that it's all gone. Yeah, it's been a pain to not have my key into the door of the world via the www. It's put a real cramp on my work. Those photographs are really necessary, you know? For my new projects, for the unfinished projects, and just to keep my memory fresh even, but all of that I can do again. If, on the other hand, the little red laptop is dead, it's a bit like I'm letting everything go, again. Like in a crazy drunken fit of spontaneity I'd proclaimed, "This stuff which appeared worth saving, isn't," and handed it out to people on the street.
The artwork and writing I never showed will never be shown, the photographs that brought back to life what it was to be in a new environment are gone forever. My fairy dust is just plain dust. This time, I don't feel free. I feel helpless.