Friday, August 21, 2009
Occasionally something, or someone, or even somewhere wins me over so completely that my affection lasts forever, even when that moment never comes again. I love that something, someone, or somewhere in such a way that it becomes a part of me, a part of my history, a part of how I think of myself and how I think of my life. The sun came out so brightly at that moment that it sticks to me. I think it has something to do with all the things I call my favorites without realizing it.
There are works of art that just knocked me over. Made me want to run out into the night screaming. It is almost unbearable when something moves me that way. Like an electric current is coursing through me. Sometimes the current is not as violent as that, the excitement I feel is quieter and I am able to contain it without anyone knowing, but it is still the same. These things I remember forever, and my affection remains even when the thing itself is gone. I suppose this makes me a sentimentalist.
This ocurred to me because something I am reading which was certainly readable enough anyway surprised me by bursting out with sunshine despite itself that I felt I would burst too. I had to put the book down. Now it is grey again, but I will remember it for that moment, and I know I will always like it for just that.
It made me wonder if there were other things like that, and that was when I realized that I had collected so many things in my life for just that reason. Movies that I still liked for one amazing scene, 8 1/2 comes to mind. People I still liked because of one night or afternoon or dinner party. Or one dance! Or one kiss!
I suspect that there are places I still like the same way: one still deer at sunrise, one salt aired starry night, one thunderhead afternoon, one dove winged sunset caught in a belltower. Or just a perfect day. Cliches to be sure, but they singe our hearts and steal our breath for that moment.
There are things like this that I will not revisit for the simple reason that I do not want these memories spoiled and taken away from me. I won't go back to the Mykonos I knew almost 50 years ago because I know it will be ruined for me. I won't go back and look at the Carravaggios I was changed forever by because I am afraid that in fact I won't love them the same way I think I do.
But there are painters I still like because of one painting that lit up for me. There are people I still love for some special moment who I'm sorry to say hate my guts-- but their smiles live inside me. And then there are the exceptions, and there is the rub; the things I thought I would keep forever that I lost. The painting I went back to where the light was gone, so gone it looked like it had never known light. I hate these moments. My fondness cannot resurrect even the slightest glow.
Many of the things we love are steady and constant; like a Reese's Cup they deliver every time(although I hate to admit that even though a Reese's Cup doesn't deliver for me anymore--I still think it might). We get to enjoy them with regularity. When I told a friend of mine that I was disappointed by a Jasper Johns show a few years ago he said that he thought I had just outgrown the work. I didn't think such a thing was possible. Was Jasper Johns to be outgrown? Was Jasper Johns for the less mature of us? Was he puerile? I didn't think so.
So who does still deliver every time I see his work? I saw my favorite Van Gogh self-portrait recently. Unbelievably it belongs to Harvard. This I was sure would still knock me off my feet! It is the one with the pale green sea of turquoise surrounding and reflecting up into the head and face. This painting had always made me weak in the knees. Now it seemed alien. Like he was an alien; and wasn't that perfect? Didn't that just make sense! It explained everything! It comforted me, who has always been alien. Like the guy in my town from the other side of the world--how weird must he feel in the burbs of Boston!
So who does it for me day in and day out? Resnick? Yes. Always has. Picasso? Yep! I read Harry Potter every night to my kids, and we've almost finished the third time around all seven books and they still deliver. Vivaldi. Porfirio DiDonna. Yes. Gregory Amenoff. Why not. Matisse. Of course. Annie Lennox. Thank you very much. Van Morrison. Hurrah! The Princess Bride. Ditto! The African Queen. Bless you Rosie! These are just a few of those things that haven't come and gone like the weather-- bright and sunny one day and dull and gray the next.
But those other ones, the ones that won me over, they are different. I still keep them around. They might be stale bread, rock hard, and I can't count on them like fresh bread, like the steady ones, or new ones, but I like having them around. They are part of me.
-- Post From My iPhone