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Monday, June 27, 2005

number 9

It's been almost a week since Mr dd and I celebrated our ninthsummer solstice as a married couple.

He took the afternoon off so we could have an early dinner and drinks on the deck of a local bistro before we headed to the pedestrian bridge. A yellow moon rose over the James and I was reminded of how much I love this man and this river.

I wouldn't say the direction of my life has been determined by the course of a river but their mythology and force has certainly shaped the regions where I've spent most of my time. Literature and recreation aside, I have known rivers to take what they want when they need it and there isn't anything one can do but watch and get out of the way.

When I was 17 or 18 I was waiting for my friend and classmate Antonio to come to work so I
could take a break. Antonio was a smart, athletic classmate of mine as well as a co-worker. We were in the same chemistry class and may even have shared a lab station. I went up to the office and asked when Antonio was due to arrive since it was past the hour I was expecting him to walk in the door. The office manager whose name I don't recall said "Oh, didn't you hear, Antonio died!" I just shook my head, assuming he was being a smart ass, turned on my heel and went back to my register.

A while later I went back to the office and asked another office manager when Antonio was expected to arrive and the man behind the counter told me that Antonio had drowned that day...he was swimming in the Mississippi RIver with his girlfriend. She swam to the shore and waved to him. She looked away for a second and then back and he was gone.... I attended his memorial service in a small Baptist church on the other side of town. It was the first and maybe only time I have attended a service in an African American church. The music was like a salve, with his sister singing a solo in the choir...until her voice cracked, she crumbled to her knees and started wailing uncontrollably. It was almost more than I could bear...I wept for Antonio, for Linda Buck, for everyone that has ever had their life taken in their prime.

I took ballet lessons throughout grade school. My teacher was very exotic and true and always seemed to say whatever needed to be said. My sister and I started off taking classes in a studio in an old storefront. We were children sharing the floor with long, tall girls in tights and leotards. Elise sat in their laps while they braided her hair. I watched what I was sure must be a real ballerina, a girl named Linda. She was tall and dark and serious. She practiced all the time and rehearsed without regard others. Their was a general air of girliness that permated the rest of the studio.It was a field of Delta Belles, with only a few exceptions.

Sister C. was her mentor. She was Sister C's star. Several years later I remember this as I studied the bronze toe shoes that were all that was left of the brilliant Linda Buck. She had been at a party on a sand bar in the Mississippi River with other kids her age - they were either highschool seniors or young Delta State students...and she suddenly disappeared. Drowned... Gone.

I have a Red Cross certificate in water safety (WSI) and have been a swimmer all of my life...but my feelings about the river's I have known is that they are places to be admired and respected from boats, rocks or water's edge. I don't swim in them and would prefer that most everyone else stay out of them...they are exquisite "roadways" as much as anything else and I don't care to get into their way. The Army Corp of Engineers will spend millions trying to make the Mississippi mind the course they set for it...and it will...until it changes course.

Mr dd and I love the James and I hope we will be able to spend more time there celebrating its beauty. He doesn't know the Mississippi. I hope we can spend time on its waters while it's minding its current course. New Orleans may be N. America's version of Venice soon and I'd like to take the ferry to Algiers with Mr dd one more time.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Past and Present

Folks I've known since I was a young but all grown up were here for several days. An artist and a writer, like Mr DD and myself, they are quite a pair. They brought their 12 year old son C. and what a great kid he is! He is an amazing young man with a heart of gold. We were very impressed with his poise, curisoity and good sense. (maybe he'll rub off on the rest of us!)

They all left today for was hard to watch them go without me. I could use a trip to Chelsea or the Met for inspiration...but there are other things I need to be doing. Its also hard to find inspiration when trying to be navigator. I always managed this in Scotland but I was being paid AND there were other issues at hand (good scotch, for one!)

R. called a few minutes ago. They've been on the road for over 5 hours and are now creeping past Baltimore....I must admit I am glad I missed the traffic! I am not a sitter. It is not what I do best. I95 traffic is certainly something to be avoided whenever possible at this point in my life.

I just hope they make it into and out of the city ok. If so, I'll see them on Friday or Saturday. In the meantime my friend S. has an opening tonite of a show she curated. I would like to be there but it is too complicated without tranportation or time. The gallery is too much of a hike for my bike at this time of nite so my time is best spent in the studio if I can't be there. (here I go...)