Twelve by Twelve Memories


This morning, while still in bed in what I call my unclaimed awake state, memories of my friend Kathleen Cornell began as a slideshow through my head. Sometimes, before I fall back asleep or will myself out of bed, the room is still dark and I only see shapes. Usually, this is when I feel very connected to the wiser part of me. The slideshow  happens before I've given any thought to where my first ten steps will go, once I've chosen which side of the bed to exit.

So I thought of Kathleen and the empty space that her physical passing away created last year and then, I remembered my favorite scene from her childhood. She once told me that when she was young, her mother had decided to go back to school for a teaching degree. Early one morning, Kathleen woke up and plodded to the dining room to find her mom at the table, a pink typewriter in front of her and papers spread out over the tabletop. As soon as she saw Kathleen, her mother gathered all her papers up in one sweeping movement of her arm and said, "Hi, Honey," as though she had been waiting all night for her. 

Since it was Kathleen's voice saying "Hi, Honey" as she told the story, I always remembered it and felt her mother's love and nurturing whenever I heard her say it. Especially when I answered her phone call and  she'd say, "Hi, Honey!" I realized this morning that I would never hear that again. She's gone. 

Then a thought popped into my head: make a picture of it. So ensued another slideshow. I thought of other memories, some mine, some from the stories that others have told me. I jumped out of bed from the side that I always exit and wrote some notes. A cup of coffee and an hour later, I'd made the decision to make pictures of scenes from memories. 

I'm declaring Barbara Kingsolver's popular quote,  "Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin," as my mantra. I'll never get all the exact details, but memory is like that. It's just relatively true.

I intend to make these pictures in a 12" by 12" format, using whatever materials feel right at the time. I want to cover a wall with twelve rows of twelve pictures. May this post serve as an uncomplicated reminder of this intention. 


Photo: My art doll, greeting her mirror image, taken with an iPhone4S.