Betwixt and Between
Day #5: Hilma af Klint and the Imaginary Possible
I rent the front bedroom on the first floor of two story wooden craftsman style house in NE Portland. The house is painted cerulean blue with lavender, sun yellow and lime green trim.A front porch begins at the steps leading to the front door and runs the length of the living room.
For over a year, I sat in a green upholstered chair from Community Thrift, looking the window at two ancient cherry trees whose roots have broken through the the cement sidewalk bordering the front yard.
This story begins mid evening in October in the strange year of the pandemic.
From my bedroom window, I watched the last pink ribbons of daylight slipped behind between the sharp slant of the neighbor’s rooftops into darkness.
Only a few red brown leaves cling to the cherry tree’s gnarled branches. Across the street, maybe thirty feet away, white diaphanous fabric meant to be spiders webbing wrap around the neighbors azalea bushes. Above their front porch, the floppy head and limp body of a ghost blows sideways in the wind.
“What did you do today?” My housemate, also my landlord asked her students who were learning English.
A door to the bathroom separates her office from my 10x 10 foot bedroom/office/art studio. Since the pandemic she has been teaching all her classes on zoom. I can hear every word
“I went to the store, ” one woman offers, her voice tentative voice, mixed with the sounds a child crying in the background.
Resting my elbow on my chair’s green corduroy armrest, I drew spirals, one after the other, on a 9x 9 pad of paper, listening as each student tries out an English variation of one of the verb for to do.
Six months before the pandemic, I quit my job, and with it, my teaching career of 30 years. I was relieved and heartbroken, trying to retrace the steps, the choices I’d made that had led me so far away from the life I had wanted.
What did you do today? Her teaching voice was louder, far more enthusiastic than than the question merited. I too had used that voice when I was teacher.
What would I say I had done that day? I couldn’t remember.
Six months of sheltering in place with weekly a trip to grocery store, days turned into nights, weekdays and weekends drifted together into an uneasy present. The old world was unraveling but what was coming to take its place was not yet clear.
With the presidential election only two weeks away, it felt as if we were all collectively holding our breath, waiting for the latest disaster to unfold.
About the only thing that moved in this state, betwixt and between the past that was no more, and a future I couldn’t yet imagine, was my hand.
Swiftly and surely my hand moved across the blank page, circling inward, then outward, drawing ever expanding concentric circles, as if following invisible sound waves and energies, though seen, could be clearly felt.
It was as if my hand was urging me forward, taking me on a journey, leading me down a path that did not begin in any one place, toward a destination I could not have arrived at directly, or in any way other than spiraling towards it.