Lostmissing: A Public Art Project -- Part Three…
"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, June 2009
Remember this project? A reminder: you know when you have a friend who you think will always be there -- no matter what, at least you’ll have that friendship, right? Lostmissing is a public art project about the loss of that relationship, a specific relationship for me -- right now it’s missing. I want to express myself in public space in a way that feels personal and more meaningful than a private expression because I want to connect to other people and other lostmissing stories. This project is a public expression of grief in order to feel hopeful again -- it’s about that random poster you see and you don’t know what it means but your eyes get bright all the sudden.
It’s amazing how something so simple as a voice saying hello can calm me, just hello, hello from the distance I wasn’t sure if the distance was the phone or you or both of you, but that’s all I got. Hello, and then. And then I called back, before I was so sure of things I wanted to say I mean I didn’t know what I wanted to say but I knew that I wanted to express my anger but then after hello, just hello, I don’t know what to say. I say: did you just answer? I guess call me back, if you’re calling me back.
So now I get to sit here and guess some more, guess whether you hung up on me because for a second you didn’t remember my number and you just answered out of habit and then oh, you remembered, and you hung up on me. Or maybe your phone went dead. Pretty doubtful, but this is how my brain works: I’m filled with doubt. Not in general, but maybe about you, and our relationship, and its sudden rupture. It’s funny how I feel calmer now, when the phone was ringing I felt all that dread and nervousness, especially when -- hello -- and I paused, didn’t know what to say. I guess I’ll have to call again.
(Lostmissing #14 says “I can’t believe you hung up on me” over and over again on the wall of graffiti)
I’m sick of thinking about your glassy eyes I’m sick of thinking about calling you in an emergency any emergency and you would always respond. If you could. How you rarely called me in that way except right when you tested positive and then I remember your glassy eyes again. I’m sick of thinking about the way you used to hold me and how safe it felt. I’m sick of thinking of things to tell you, random things like the beautiful clanky messy song I want to dance to right now even when I’m thinking about you and the original it’s covering and you would know the original. I don’t.
I’m sick of thinking about what to say when I run into you, if I run into you, and how I’ll feel crushed and usually I want to express exactly how I’m feeling but then I end up acting like I’m okay even if I’m saying that I’m terrible I don’t want to act like I’m okay but it always ends up happening. I want to go right to the feeling not hold back, especially with you who I’ve trusted for so long for so long I’ve trusted you even in my body with you I could go right to the feeling.
But my anger turns so swiftly to sadness and it’s not the sadness I want to show you. You already know about the sadness. But what makes me sad now is that I don’t think it’ll feel good to express my anger. And maybe you won’t know exactly what it means but you’ll know that I never get angry that way and especially not in public. And maybe when it shoots to my head and I say something like I can’t believe how you’re treating me it’s disgusting, maybe instead of the distance I’ll just feel rage which is a kind of closeness or if the rage crashes fast then at least it’ll happen after you’re out of sight. Or maybe it doesn’t matter whether you’re out of sight. Maybe all that matters is that then I can go right to the sobs that place where my whole body collapses and I know that it’s something that can hold me. I haven’t gone there yet maybe the sobs are the most important thing even if it’s the anger I’m trying to express.
(Lostmissing #16 is a letter from someone about lostmissing #11, about their own lostmissing relationship, pasted as an addition to the original lostmissing #11)
I’m not good for your recovery I might make you feel too much I might make you cry I might make you think about whether recovery isn’t just avoiding the liquor I might make you question things you don’t want to question I might make you think about the past. Because when you’re in a relationship for 16 years that means most of the 16 years is the past and that’s one of the things that makes everything mean so much. I might make you think about what everything means. I might make you think about me. I might make you think I’m not good for your recovery even though I’ve spent years longer without the liquor without the drugs I remember that time you said: you don’t understand what it means to be an addict. Maybe that was the beginning of losing you.
Tonight after the rain stopped I walked all the way up the hill to the top and it was so beautiful I could look down in three directions, the streets were already dry I guess because the rain just rolled right down them and everything was clear and still and I realized I could never ever ever give up this time of night, beautiful deserted clear gorgeous night and then I realized maybe you’re turning 40 this year, and I wondered what that means to you so I called and left this message.
But then I remembered wait, you turned 40 last year or maybe it was two years ago and it’s so strange how six months without talking to someone you’re so close to for so long makes you forget these simple things I mean I remember the date but I don’t remember how many years, and maybe that’s good because I don’t think about that kind of thing so much. From the top of the hill everything glowed and I used to live here for people like you but now I guess I live here for the views, the air blowing in cooler and fresher through the darkness.
Later I was leaving the house, daytime now and I glanced into the residence hotel at the end of the block and there you were, or someone like you, taller actually but you know how when you haven’t seen someone for a while you start seeing them in other people I saw your tattoos on his arms and the cigarette in his mouth gaunt face obviously tweaking I wondered if you had gone in a different direction than I’d imagined. I mean I imagined many things, but I never imagined I’d lose you to AA. I guess drugs didn’t make you inhale a different worldview they made you forget, and then remember. I wonder what you remember now.