Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Interior landscapes

Although Boston and surrounding small cities are visually rich, the interior of my mother’s house offers mini-views strangely similar to the public environs of north Alabama. Cheap religious icons of plastic, glass, and metal; emphasis on the extended family, especially its past through photographs; a penchant for the “cute” and politically simple.

During my recent visit to my parents' abode up north, I was taken by the idea of impermanence, and felt a desire to cling to these tiny furniture-top interior landscapes created by my mother from the materials she felt comfortable with. When will I ever see EXACTLY their like again? However, even the art world now flaunts collections of meaningful detritus. Minus the personal items, my mother’s arrangements, partly an expression of (Great Depression/depression induced?) not-wanting-to-let-go-of-anything, would be considered mini-installations or shrines.

My friend Anya, whom I also visited in the Boston area, has shrines, but they are thematic and minimal. She knows how to let go. She also knows how to wield a dustcloth.

There was a sadness in looking at my mother’s frozen galaxies of objects. Once she is gone, they’ll be gone. For now, the interior of the house is still a reflection of her concerns and hopes, though her once-frightening creativity has finally been contained by such things as fake crystal rosary beads and potholders in the shape of owls. But nothing is wasted.

In the midst of this, in his separate bedroom, my father reads his complicated books and lets objects fall where they were last given attention. His collections are arranged in his head, and consist of scientific facts and historical anecdotes. Things drift to the corners of his lair: the lost shoe, the letter from a friend now deceased, two old pennies, an electrical outlet adapter.

Human is as human does. And I, a human, witness this partnered domestic stasis, collecting impressions and sentiments, making a shrine in my heart, knowing that to be as impermanent as my father’s thoughts and my mother’s objects.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to describe the almost oppressive feeling of doom and depression I get over there...not healthy for me to be at Cottage.