Memory, Writing

En route from Cape Town to Lesotho, Kathryn and I stayed at a lodge started by a man and his family over thirty years ago. This was near the beginning of his retirement when he was in his sixties. His nurse teases him and reminds him of what he’ll do next and then next. He’ll often wander on his own, or sit with a coffee or a scotch. Strike up a conversation with whomever is around, especially Kathryn he says because she is beautiful and has a beautiful smile. This time Kathryn wasn’t there, though, and he greeted someone he knew. He says,

-You do some sort of work, don’t you. With children. You’re in charge of the programs of the children.
-Yes, I am. Those with special needs.
-Oh good good. Good for you. That’s very nice. That’s very important. And you stayed with us before.

-Yes we stayed with you for three months earlier this year. And have many times before. We’re family.
-And tell me. The name Luke is somewhere in my mind, of a significance. Can you tell me why this is.
-He’s married to Katie. Luke is Katie’s husband.
-Well, send him my fondest regards. Just delighted to have you here, you know.

He’s quite charming really but there’s of course a sort of separation between him and others who are here, even his family. A fog, in a way, maybe a loneliness that I can’t speak to. A contentedness at the same time, though, that I can’t speak to either. I’m always swollen and sore from ambition.

Every time I miss days I’ll have doubts that I’ll be able to start again. I’d like to really plant myself when I return, and as I’m planted here for the next two weeks in this mountainous chilly home, I’ll start to start over again here. Amnesty. Every time I write something, attempting to strengthen a memory or event or thought or idea, attempting to crystalize it, it’s an energetic and delicate doing. Brought down with reckless and caffeinated hands, certainly, but I also attempt to not damage as I categorize. I’m fascinated by language, as these measurement and organizational tools, disrupting experience, the ways that thermometers don’t measure properly. I want to have a stronger memory, broad and complete. I want to dig up my roots, and solder them together, to help me understand the story as though it exists before it has been finished. I worry when missing days of writing notes to myself, when so much is happening, when I try to come back to write it all, that I might miss things, or that I might miss the ways that events fell into place and the way I felt. Especially as I’m writing these entries I worry that I’m tying things up too neatly. Tying things up in to their place which my own head is really too messy for. He’d have none of it. That there’s a place and a way that these things all fit together, fell together that maybe exists outside of my analysis. How do we do it and deal with it. How do we remember, but carefully?

The morning after we arrived in Lesotho, Jay joined our team. Through conversations with him, and even just his presence I’m reminded of so many shows from the last six years. While I enjoyed our performance of A Dog from Hell, the process was what I’m really nostalgic for. We dipped into Eurydice in the making of it, and I think about this forgetful water of the River Styx rushing over me. I’d love to steal from that to end my play. The final consequence is a hard warm rain falling everywhere, washing our memories clear. There must be a sort of muscular release as well, letting go of carrying all of these images.

There have been so many little episodes, moments, colors and climates that we’ve moved through here. Parts of me miss my library too, but I always want everything at once. Writing feels more urgent the more I dig into it. I love it and I will always want a deeper wanting. On realizing that, Merwin says on poetry, One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time.


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