Pieces of Strangers & Pieces of Me That Mean Nothing to You
20 x 24 in.
50.8 x 63.5 cm.
Parsons School of Design
Unused stolen “hot stuff” temporary tattoo because I only like them when they’re temporary despite their crumbling residue on the bathtub floor and because my roommates left them out with their kitchen mess from another party I missed on purpose, spending another night in East Village instead, perhaps making use of free karaoke cards which we’d save for a random Tuesday to be spent on East 4th street because we just feel like singing in an empty bar (Cranberries only every time). Other nights would be spent on East 6th only to be granted free smiley drink tickets not to be used (No Cranberry only Ginger Ale, no vodka this time) but to be kept, like a chopstick sleeve from my last supper living on Saint Marks, hung on my apartment wall which I had shared with Artemisia and Emmie before I’d move to Brooklyn with new sweet strangers and their tattoo kitchen mess. Emmie was the first stranger, not sibling, I would ever share a room with and the first person I would ever speak freely of my mother and father, hers and mine being quite the same in their downfalls. Emmie’s grocery list remains on my wall we no longer share to remind me she was thinking of my peanut butter and apple sauce then and I of her now, and always. “I am sure of myself,” one of the many lies I told myself Freshman year…this one written for the sake of a silly participatory art exhibit at the New Museum where you write a hopeful albeit false fact and add it to the wall of lies turned truth; strangers’ lies included “Donald Trump is and never was my president” and “I am with who I am meant to be with.” I was neither with who I was meant to be with then nor sure of myself then though I am the most sure of myself I have ever been now, making this remnant worthwhile. Belief is fiction before it is made to be truth. Broken wings that fell off of a stuffed butterfly toy my mother sewed before I was born, though apparently not well, and a collage from Freshman year of the filling joy of a wedding day…a bit like the joy of a child with her father in a photo booth off the boardwalk, a photo strip kept safe in book after book as my fathers bookmark from 2004 to this day––preserving the joy of a little girl’s smile dripping with vanilla soft serve, years before she grows to prefer chocolate and wear the same size jeans as her father did then and does once again now that he stopped eating ice-cream after his midnight shift and drinking altogether…A bit like the bookmark I’d made for myself of my sister Celia posing in a tutu and cowboy boots on her 4th birthday, similar to the birthday card with two girls in tutus that I’d bought for her 22nd before realizing I’d never possibly find the right words of my admiration for her that year…only to stick it on my wall and give her a long hug instead. Iron-on patches taped to my wall because I don’t own an iron: H for Holly, my mother’s name, Z for Zachary, my father’s name and F for Faith, my middle name––chosen because of a letter my father wrote to be read by my mother in the hospital bed moments after she’d given birth to her third child. I believe faith is all we need––not in God or our husbands or in anything––but faith for faith’s sake. My motto sheet has been on the wall in every room I have lived in since I was 17, added to every birthday (a day of despair) or in particular moments of hope. To Feel is to be free (written upon returning home from my first Philosophy class), lovely nonsense (my two favorite words because if one does not suffice the other might) & life is too short to be bored (my mother would always say “smart girls are never bored”) written on my 18th birthday, “make of me what you will” & “care more, care less, know the difference,” written on my 19th birthday. “I wish to mourn perpetually the absence of what I love or might love, isn’t that what religious people call the love of God?” from Santayana, written today, while making this. And although my fear of darkness has been overcome, cheap glow-in-the-dark stars still sparkle to remind me of my childhood ceiling bunkbed view and the silly naivety of nightmares, the pitiful naivety of thinking growing old and brave is best. Is it not worthwhile that even living in Paris at 20 years old Olivia the Pig lives no longer on my bookshelf but on my wall? Books I would read again and again only ever to hear the narration of mother’s voice in my head…And on the backside of the paper bag lunch monster, is an image of Olivia’s mother by chance––barging into her room as mothers do––this time with words of Isaac Newton, warning her of mediocre minds...perhaps fallen to boredom? Is it not pious spirits that listen to the words of their mother only until they may read aloud––marveling in their own voice, their words sounding like for the first time like belief? My second favorite pair of boots, bought for 35€ rather than 40€ after I spoke to the man for a while about how I miss New York though I prefer his vintage prices and Paris for now; pink pointed snakeskin cowboy boots worn most often with bright blue stockings. Vintage playing cards I bought from a toy store on my street, Rue Folie de Mericourt…only the queens would be hung on my wall, King Charles being the only exception because maybe the hearts mean he was a loving man. Charles would go on to be a little Valentine for Oona, my closest friend made in Paris…a Valentine that would be left in my purse as we moved from bar to bar making the best of our being single for the first time in 4 years on February 14th, and even though I noticed the card each time I dug for my lighter or chapstick that night, I never gave it to her. I all too often write letters or cards of sweet truth to my friends only to tell myself I forgot about them when I know that is an ugly lie, and I am too worried of what they will make of me and my card in the moment…until the moment has passed and it is only to be found taped to my wall. Photographs of siblings in sand and austere aunts on fences and little girls in pastures and lovers on benches that I have never met or known and will never love, found at street markets in New York & Paris, now all only to be found on my wall. I suppose I grow closer to love each day and I suppose I only hope they felt the beauty of their lives before the moment passed and they, too, wound up on my wall, just like that. More women and mothers and little girls, too, whom I would never know or never be…or perhaps already am in minute ways with rarely in a dress or bows, always fidgeting with the buttons of my coat, always with shallow pockets filled with sentimentalities…despite my wanting to be more of a man––a bit more selfish today and less forgiving sometimes or just once in my life. Postcards and Valentines neither to nor from me, illegible in a language I neither read nor speak, and yet another coupon or raffle or secret or promise I would keep. And just like that, passing moments I mourn perpetually of lives I have loved or do love or might love…all to be found only here, on my wall, until I love them once more or never again, just the same.