Archive for 'fibromyalgia'
June 24, 2009 by Kimberli, under Alps, fibromyalgia, grief, Italy, love, photo, Uncategorized.
Part 7- Italy
I am remembering Mark Andres’ painting class back in 2006 again. We’ve practiced seeing our straight lines and curved. I am looking at a blank canvas when he stops us and introduces the concept of dark and light passages. I am not an impressive painter by any means, but I am amazed at how often I process the world as if I were painting. Since I was twelve and started taking adult lessons, I’ve observed life in terms of what colors I would need to mix to paint it. When I met my biological grandmother at 18, I learned she did the same. We still will look at random things and both say something like, “It needs a dot of red, right there. To anchor it.” So my instructor Mark, with his thick gray hair flopping in his face, tells us to prime our canvases with washes of dark and light paint. He asks us to notice how the darks in the picture connect and form passages, even when they are not literally touching. How the lights do the same when you squint or let your vision blur. How the darkness of the earth ties to the shadows on a tree and moves upward and out of the frame through the browns of the roof on the house. How the light swirling clouds in van Gogh’s Starry Night connect with the stars and move horizontally across the top two-thirds of the painting while the darks cover the bottom third and streak up into the left vertical third. Like the idea of straight lines and curved, I think of these light and dark passages as I shoot photography and as I try to process my life. The lightness of love and trust – melon gelato, prosecco bubbles, sweet strawberries. How they connect to one another and tie together easily once they begin. The darkness of infidelity and disappointment – aged balsamic vinegar, black truffles, blood sausages.
Here in Italy I’m reading a book called the Grief Recovery Handbook. I read it twenty years ago after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and spending over a year in bed. At that time I followed the exercises and drew timelines of my first twenty years. Now, at age forty, I’m doing the same exercises again, but have an additional twenty years of life, love and loss to cover. I look at the timeline and see that there have been dark and light passages flowing through it all. The darkness of illness that cycles, the death of a brother that is called up again with the loss of another brother that is brought back by the death of a friend and then another and then another. The lightness of music and periods of good health, friendships and travel. Bright passages of hope and love that connect the lovers and family members to one another and bring them all together in a marriage ceremony. Darkness that inks out everything as the timeline covers the past four months. There are periods that hold together like graphic blocks, bold and decisive with only general memories. Black or white. The are other years that are cluttered with details and whirl together like marbled paper. I am all of this, I think. The timeline becomes a painting in my mind, and the painting becomes a photograph I capture in the uneven doorways and electrical lines of the Venetian Jewish ghetto. The textures, the entryways and exits, the cumulative effects of it all.
Grief and four days
I don’t sleep well these night in Italy. I dream of houses collapsing, the walls falling outward while the family sits silently at the chrome kitchen table. “Move on.” “Put it behind you.” “You’ll find better.” “Time will heal,” are the things people say. I know myself, however. The hole not deep enough to bury, the distraction not sweet enough to sugarcoat and the mask not opaque enough to pretend. I have to process, regardless of well-intended advice. Tonight I was envisioning the past six years as a tall stack of wrapped boxes I carry around. The straight edges of the creased wrapping paper and twirly-twisty ribbon on top. I had taken a walk along the harborside and set my camera on the ground to shoot slow shutter photos of the sailboats in the water. In my mind I took my tower of boxes down and sat it next to me. I imagined the ways in which I could deal with these boxes. I considered several options. 1) tie the boxes together with rope, firmly attach a sailboat anchor to the end, along with my ankle, and push it into the ocean. 2) find one hundred helium balloons, I can’t yet see if they are all black or all colors, and watch the tower float off into the Italian Alps 3) open each box carefully and photography the contents. I know that some boxes will contain gifts, others grenades. Some will hold beauty, others bombs. I wonder how strong I will have to be to do it. How flexible I will need to be to discover what was not as I imagined. “Strong like a memory, strong like a willow in the wind. Strong as you’ll ever be, you will always need to bend.” Singer-songwriter, Craig Carothers
Is it final now? Four days since the paperwork was to be submitted. Four days for the judge to sign. Four seconds – a name on the Blue-toothed dash. Four days of silence. Forty days to move out. Fortieth birthday. Four month in a shocked coma.
Four minutes to book a flight to Italy.
Am I better yet?