Friday, September 17, 2010

Amelia at Muriel's or in Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Amelia is here, back here in Mudford. I think the name she gives to the town her sister lives in says it all. The last place on earth she wants to end up, but the place she ends up all the same. She believes she's dreaming at first and it's one of those dreams we're all familiar with. In mind, the phone call won't go through, or I can't find the room I'm supposed to meet my class in. . . everyone has their variations on the theme of being impotent. Amelia believes she's bested it, that she's managed her dreams as she's managed her life. Mind over matter, right Dr. Freud. Amelia thinks she can do what she's always done, change the course of the narrative and make it work for her. She finds her missing charts, she discovers her navigator in the back of the plane where he's supposed to be and she never, ever gets left behind. She tells herself how the narrative of her dream unfolds and so be it.

Not this time. And that's where she gets stuck, is this a dream or is this real? We all get stuck when we realize how little control we have. Do we accept that, or fight against it. This is the question I pose to her. The answer . . . forthcoming.

Friday, September 10, 2010

things and more things: or what Amelia Earhart has in her pocket

Amelia finds a cigarette lighter and a pack of Lucky Strikes. Also an emergency fund stashed away for safekeeping. She wears a leather jacket, a man's style button down shirt and a pair of trousers. She wants for nothing. That's what it should be in the end, you should be able to let everything go but the bare essentials.

My mother couldn't, didn't, wouldn't and thus we're faced with the debris of a life. In her apartment you find all as it was the day she died. A four bedroom Upper West Side apartment with the walls hung with memories. Here is her dear friend Janice's painting and my aunt's. A startlingly accurate rendering of my sister as a high school student with her hair clipped perfectly in the foyer. Prints by well known artists. Collections of paperweights and antique bottles, Christmas plates, quilts . . .and the most macabre piece that always reminded me my mother performed abortions, a print showing a pregnant woman in a courtyard, next to her a man walking away from her with a giant shears in hand. My mother is everywhere and nowhere, although her ashes sit in the back closet, waiting for us to spread them. She is with her things, it's fitting. But of course, the things are left behind for us to disperse along with her remains.

Why do we collect so much? We come into the world alone and leave alone, yet we cart around so many possessions. They remind us of moments, and I wonder as my mother's memory failed what they evoked? I will never know. There were few things left to say at the end, and if there were, she no longer had the vocabulary to express much but her thanks and her love. Now I am left to interpret the what and the why and the how of her life . . . through the things she left behind when she vanished.