Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The red door is returned

Artist Sunny Carvalho has a new rubber stamp that says, "I was going to take over the world but then I saw something shiny."  My story is I saw something red.  The rest has simply vanished.
Original art by Jill Logan.
Falling back to sleep night before last, I remembered that the house we used to own had a red front door.  I had not forgotten the house, the owning and inhabiting of it by our little family, but in my current preoccupation with matters of illustration and red, it drifted up like the answer in a Magic Eight Ball.  Where had I been?

Science fiction series and stories give me images that substitute for gaps in language, those moments when I resort to hand gestures to try and fill in the blanks.  Even though human life really is about the journey and not the destination - for what would the destination be? - I still feel, at times, as though I fell asleep in my age-suspending pod as we rocketed from Earth's gravity and awoke three years later to begin a new mission on the other side of the sky.  It is often unclear how I moved from one state of being to another and I am content to give miracles the credit.  The mysteries of time and space, we meet again.  I now count in decades the years since I lived in that house or was married to that husband, yet how did I become so clouded that I lost track of a red door when the color grabs me every day, yanks me by the lapels or the sleeve or pant cuff or puts me in a head-lock and insists on itself.  I am helpless, willingly, in the face of its shameless self-promotion.

I think of it, this state of being, as wandering away from myself.  It is a thing we do, drift off and become estranged.  The intense mindfulness required to stay present, to stay connected to all our essential parts and not be lured off into the shrubs by shiny things or tedious, worrisome, wearying things takes muscle.  Reversal of fortune has a way of inducing amnesia and lethargy.  We forget, even as we remember and grieve, what and how our circumstances used to be.

The return of the red door brought with it Isak Dinesen's words, "I had a farm in Africa."  I believe each of us has equivalent remnants of other days.  When I was fully awake, I sensed the memory would not disappear again, until perhaps greatly advanced age came and hid it under the sheets which no longer fit any bed we own.  My cells, not just the ones in my brain, knew that, as Isak Dinesen would never not have had a farm in Africa, even though it was gone, I would never not have had a house with a red door, next to which geraniums grew in a brick planter.  The truth of the good that was cannot be taken.  It can never un-be.

This makes me wonder whether loss may bring with it a token to exchange for what is gone.  I have sacrificed time and certainly emotion to dwelling on the absences, the emptiness, the missing pieces.  I have allowed what is gone to diminish and even define me.  Perhaps for a time that was the best I could do, an authentic response but not one intended to persist.  The forgotten door became a gift, like finding money in an old purse.  It felt like a restoration.  It was not here, it was no longer mine, yet it still was.  It had been.  The temporary nature of how any of this works, the fact that everything including ourselves is on loan, I don't know that I ever saw it quite like this.  I'm not sure what it means, other than another example of how a thing is and is not at the same time.  I have a few prescription medications that caution "may cause dizziness."  So might any of it.  It is a dizzying world.

5 comments:

Erin in Morro Bay said...

We have a red door now (rosemary in blue pots, not geraniums)and look for houses with them wherever we go. Margot says they bring good luck and raise one's vibration and that's gotta be a good thing!
Erin

susan t. landry said...

gasp. wow, marylinn.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - I like the idea of luck and vibration. Our apartment complex chose a shade, not unpleasant but not vibration-raising, of light eggshell blue for all the doors when they repainted parts of the building. I bet we could get up a petition and all ask for red, which would then, of course, fade much more quickly and have to be redone, etc., etc. I had a farm in Africa. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Thank you. Just thank you. xo

Gabrielle Panckhurst said...

My front door is red and I have a salmon pink geranium inspired by the romantic children's story The Little White Horse. Since that story salmon pink seems the best colour for geraniums.