I’m reading a book right now called Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. It was published in 2005 and written by Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air. This book is a memoir of Corrigan’s life interwoven with books and a commentary on some of the books she has read. She lives in Washington, D.C. and reading about her life is giving me flashbacks of the ten years I lived in Northern Virginia, before I moved to Santa Fe, which was way before I left Santa Fe to move back to Los Angeles, in the cosmic full circle of my life as I know it now.
I was especially remembering all the years I spent in the community darkroom in Arlington, Virginia, how I had a whole life centered around the darkroom and the relationships I formed there. My love of darkroom printing is like my love of books in this sense: The dark room has been replaced entirely by digital processes and books have been under threat of going this way as well. Which really messes me up. My style of processing intuitive data into art is kinesthetic. A kinesthetic learner learns through physical activity. So, I prefer to move an idea through physical action in the darkroom (which I no longer do, btw), experiencing books in the physical world, creating collages from the actual physical things I’ve collected from the woods, from the trash. Sometimes this preference leaves me feeling more than a little displaced.
Anyway. The darkroom was a really big deal to me and I miss it and it was a deep artistic experience and discipline which I had worked hard at in a community that was very important to me.
When I lived in Santa Fe I sold my art in an outdoor market for many years and I talked to a lot of people, people from all over the place. These conversations made the world seem so small sometimes. Once I met a woman from the same neighborhood I had lived in in Virginia and I do not know how we got to this but turned out she had been to one of our many yard sales and had bought a chipped white jug that we’d pulled out of the attic as part of the effort of selling the house and moving to Santa Fe. And I met another woman who – seriously it is incredible to me that we could have figured this out – knew one of my friends from the darkroom, G. She used to work at the newspaper with a flight attendant who took pictures and went to Italy all the time and who had a cute figure, and I was like, yeah: G. Just remembering this is blowing my mind. That somewhere in a dusty market I could meet random people whose lives had already crossed this close to mine, miles and years away from where we were. This kind of thing used to happen to me all the time, though. In Santa Fe. Maybe it was the high altitude. Or the proximity of the moon and how you could see the stars shoot by at night in such proliferation as to make your jaw drop. I don’t know. It must be evidence of a kind of natural magic, which I am grateful for.