Paint spills across the canvas, priming it for the glimpses of life soon to be depicted. Oftentimes art inspires the viewer to look deeper and jump to their own conclusions. This is precisely what artist Alan Tuttle does in his series of doors featured in The Domiciles Project. Check out the site because my very simplified synopsis of the project does not do it justice. http://www.thedomicilesproject.com Alan invites the viewer to create their own narrative inspired by his “spill paintings” on these doors. Each side has a partial painting with a peek into what’s hidden from view on the other side. It’s voyeouristic nature captivates the viewer. You are physically unable to look at these doors without instinctively putting your own meaning to it and developing its story. You can’t help it. For this reason, Alan has been partnering with local schools in a literacy and art collaborative. As I have been out for maternity, I was unable to experience this with my students. I did however go to see the doors during the evening when they were open to the public. I’m a firm believer that I should not ask my students to do something I myself have not done or am not willing to do. In the spirit of this belief I intended to find a door to write something about. I did not expect to connect with a door that would fit so timely into my current mindset. Here is my intimate response.
A letter to my grandfather; the questions I did not ask.
You will never know how profoundly you impacted my life. You embody the good in man. You were full of honest integrity, knew the value of a hard day’s work, a good laugh, story, song, and smile. You would literally give someone the shirt off your back and came to my rescue as a silent partner many many times. I enjoyed our chats while you sat at your post. You fed my heart and imagination with your words, while visiting you gave me memories I shall cherish forever. You were a great man.
There are two things that stand out in my mind from our conversations. You never wanted presents, you said you had every thing you needed. You enjoyed company and time. The second is something you said to me one of the first few times I visited after we met. I was looking for Matt but was swept into a chat like so often was the case. I remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable but you said that an honest person always looked you straight in the eye when you talk to them. There was more but this I remember clearly. I was taught this growing up but I was nervous and suddenly very self conscious of this. I made a point from that conversation on to always look you right in the eye when we talked. I wanted to be an honest person in your eyes. You always inspired good morals and strong code of ethics.
When you became sick I was filled with and reminded again of my greatest fear. Death. Being that you were the wisest man I knew, I always wondered what you thought about it. Were you scared? Were you at peace? Were you angry? I had rarely seen you upset, let alone angry. And given our troubles at home, I wanted to ask you “does life get easier”, is there ever a time when you feel at ease, like you’ve got things covered? Can you say you’re truly happy? So many people I know struggle and are not happy. My life is one big roller coaster. If anyone would know, it would be you. And if there was anyone I would believe, it was you. Does life get easier? This was and is the question that burns in my mind. Or is it one big struggle after another; a series of obstacles to overcome. When it became apparent that you really did not have long left in life, I still did not ask. I couldn’t bring myself to ask you. And now I wish I had. But asking you seemed in my mind like an admission of defeat and what would I do if you said no.
I really wanted you to meet our daughter. It was really important to me. At least you got to hear that we were expecting.
I keep writing this entry in chunks. A thought continued as I have the time. I find that I no longer wish to continue writing this letter. Just like my refusal to ask my question and perhaps gain closure, I can’t bring myself to keep going to conclude my thoughts. Continuing brings me back to the mindset that prompted my questioning and why would I want to consciously do that?
So perhaps as another chunk, another time, my decision to not continue is a natural turning point to the other side.
My daughter makes me happy.
Giving birth was my other great fear in life. It’s true that having a child changes your life. And that’s the whole marvel of it, you’ve created life. A whole new life is born. When I look at her I think of time and how she has her whole life ahead of her. That may seem like an eternity, but gazing at her in those first few days, I saw mine and hers flash before me in an instant. The things we would experience together and apart flashed like moving pictures in my mind. I panicked about losing all those grains of sand in the hourglass before they’d even begun to fall. If I have to hear, “enjoy it while you can, it goes by so fast” one more time I might scream. I know it goes by too fast, I feel it already and your announcing it makes me near panic again. I heard it on my first day back to work. Thank you for making me feel even better about being away from my daughter and being at work. Ass.
Things were moving too fast (and they still are) but I think I’ve got a grasp now. It’s scary. Life and death. I never realized how closely my two great fears were linked. But my daughter makes me happy. She has changed my outlook on life and my perspective on so many levels. There are so many things that I “get” now. I just want to make her happy. I will do whatever I can to make her happy, to bring her smiles, and protect her from the harsher things in life. And for myself I will do my best to savor this new life and not dwell on that which I cannot change. A borrowed goal; you know who you are.