Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Photorama IV


Gallery TPW's annual group show/fundraiser, PHOTORAMA, is a'coming, and they need your help, love, support, and your eyes. In a collection of absolutely fantastic artists, TPW celebrates its 25th anniversary of Photorama. I'll be showing alongside these fine forks, a beautiful space, new work.

TPW @56 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON

Collectors Preview Thursday, December 1, 6 – 9 pm
Opening Reception Friday, December 2, 6 – 9 pm

Sale continues Saturday, December 3, Noon – 6 pm
Tuesday, December 6 – December 10, Noon – 6 pm

For more info, click here.

City To City

(A Younger Version of My Father, Cruising Around in Someone's Boat, Feeling Rich But Feeling Free, 199-)

Did I ever tell you how my folks met? I'm not sure, I probably talk about myself or movies too much, I'm really sorry about that.

Both my parents came from boats, they came to this country (Canada) on two separate boats, coming from two completely different places, and then their paths one day, one fateful day, met. And it wasn't just seeing some beautiful stranger on the street, or in a cafe, smoking and reading Catcher in the Rye or some Vonnegut book, or off the internet (which didn't exists at the time), it was something romantic, something that if there weren't two people in the world that can back it up it would sound like a work of fiction, something old people in their eighties or nineties say how they met. Well, it isn't, ok, this actually happened, and I'm not lying on this one either.
In 1970-something, downtown Toronto, in City Hall, on the iceskating ring the city prepares each and every year, open to the public, my dad was figure skating, graceful like a bumble bee glided over hard slick ice like it was air. It was night, the mood was just right, people sipping on hot chocolates, bundled up, keeping each other warm, it was colder then too, but my dad was out there in his dark red leotard and shiny black skates, Italian made, probably the most expensive thing he owned at the time. He was all but missing a headband, in the same dark red as his leotard, but he had long hair, smiled a lot, loving every minute of it, doing a 360 in the air over the fat kid who fell on his face. Somewhere in all that mess of tourists and clumsy idiots a white swan, also in hi-end Italian made skates, pierces the crowd like shots fired in a riot, my dad, who wasn't my dad at the time caught sight of her, probably in mid air, floating back to earth like freaking angel, and saw her, long red hair, soft white skin, blue in the eyes, grooving along the ice in her own rhythm, in her own world. My dad probably thought that his moves would one day get him a girl, and that one day that girl would be his wife. He probably spent all the money he had on those hi-end Italian made skates, and probably someone, one his few white friends at the time told him, in Canada, that's how you get 'em, by skating. I was never told how my father came to learn and become so well at ice skating, let alone figure skating, I couldn't imagine it being that popular in China during his youth, all I know is he was a natural. A Natural.
My mother, who wasn't my mother at the time, caught glimpse of my father, she was watching his moves, he was moving for her, without ever looking over, confident like a stray bullet, curve after curve with that grinding of ice being shaved by perfectly sharp stainless steel blades here and there, to show off, points for style. Eventually he had gotten my mother so riled up she couldn't take it anymore, she wanted to know this man, this graceful asian man on ice. And so she went up to him, and started to skate beside, and they just moved with each other, in their own grooves, but in the same rhythm. All night long, or at least until City Hall ice ring closed back then.
I could imagine them doing this every night, at the same time, for weeks before actually dating, seeing each other outside, with non-bladed shoes on. They both had to know, without words, that they were meant to be. And they have been with each other ever since.
Now this part of my father not knowing English at the time is true too, at least he didn't know a lot of it. Which is probably why he just skated and communicated in that way. And with his moves, the only one that could understand those wordless words was my mother, who is very understanding. They would eventually date, and a few years later they would marry. How much English my father knew when that happen is still left a mystery, some say he never knew he was getting married, he wondered why this event just for him and his Irish girlfriend was happening outside of their anniversary. A priest spoke to him, telling him to repeat after him, and he tried his hardest to replicate those meaningless sounds as good as he could, and when the priest motioned to apply that ring around my mother's thursday finger he did exactly that, sealing a bond that which he may or may not have known he was sealing. Whether he knew mattered not, for they are still married, after over thirty-four years. And these days, when everyone is surrounded by divorce, dysfunctional families, whether you're in one or were in one, close to one, had friends, or an uncle, that bond is cheaper than some hollywood version of what love is, it appears beautiful, wonderful, amazing, everything at first, and for a while, but the movie ends, ends before things could get bad, and if you think about it, why do so many Hollywood romance movies end with marriage, like there is any reinsurance on that shit, happily ever after, like a skipping stone, or the ending of Inception. Is it all in our minds, no, there are some things that stay together, that are tales of true romance, and it is real, it is possible to love someone forever, but you're going to probably hate them, possibly imagine killing them but never doing it of course, just curious, and you will find love again, in them, and things will be good for a while, and just like your life before marriage, it was up and down, but this time you have someone, which makes it harder, easier, harder, ahh-idontknow-anymore...,better, worst, like a square wheel rolling down the road, the sky is clear, animated birds are singing, the sun is whistling, and everything is good, until that pointy edge of the wheel meets the ground, the weight on both of your shoulders hits you, and some of the load is displaced, your wife is covered in oil, your husband in covered in manure, then the point passes, the threshold is over, and you're back to the planes, and you suddenly appreciate when shit isn't crazy, when you're not yelling at each other, ASK FOR DIRECTIONS, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING, YOU'RE DRIVING THE WRONG DIRECTION THERE ARE CARS COMING AT US!, YOU FORGOT TO PICK UP THE KIDS, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE! When you aren't using all caps in your voice, when you're able to stand each other, when the sting is gone, when it is easier. When it is easer, ahhhh (relaxed, deep exhale, ahhh, the opposite of a sigh). Easier.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning To Love Yourself (More) pt. 19

The Future/The Past

Once, twice, three times a charm.

In a moment, in an open gas station, with stained concrete, cars passing by on a highway turnout, and the ding of pressure hoses being ran over an asian man with long hair, in a red vest, slim wore jeans, and handsome face is walking back to his car. The car has been counting down this moment for its entire life, it was right before this asian man as the odometer ticked up the number of miles. It has reached its final mile. Something sparks inside the car, something that still to this day remains a mystery, and some electrical wire meets gasoline and they form an ignition, which in turn forms a fire. This man, wearing his vest, steps inside of the car, it has been on fire, from the inside of the engine compartment for over a minute, and he tries to start the engine but it is already going. Smoke bellows out of the hood, which is soon followed by flame, the man had already clicked into his safety belt, he struggles to free himself, his mind goes into survival mode, and the moment slows down. Small details like the crack in the windshield, the molding around the passenger side window peeling off, the smell of gasoline burning, the piercing bright sun engrossed in smoke, all heighten for this moment, all will be forgotten once this man escapes from the burning car, kneeled over breathing hard.
I don't remember ever being there when all of this happened, but in my mind I remember everything like it happened to me, I remember watching my father run from a burning car, over the years it has changed into a smoking car, an exploding car, but burning car is the most accurate to what really happened that day. The gas station is one off of Route 66 in Gallup, NM in my mind, it is the same one in southern Ontario where my father escaped a fiery death. I imagine him doing a barrel roll upon escaping the car, the car exploding, my dad's hair looking marvelous in the wind, in the slow motion of the scene, and I am there, as a three year old boy, looking at my father the same way I look at Arnold Schwarenegger in some awesome action sequence. And that memory of him was left unchanged somewhere deep down inside of me, where the three year old boy hangs out with all those things that slowly come back to me over the years. Mainly from smoking pot and having my childhood return to me in vivid representations. My father is far from that man of action now, he is old, somewhat grubby, somewhat amazing, and we don't get along, nor did we ever really. My definition of father is someone who was there when I was growing up, taking care of me, but showing love in a very mysterious and ambiguous way, it was there, but there was no face, it was just completely self-less, behind-the-scenes, done perhaps unintentionally.
Every time I see him I feel like a dick, that I'm a horrible son, and where I once thought I was a kind person, a caring person, at least my mother tells me so, and I used to feel like that, I am not. Some people are hard to be around, to be able to take them, for who they are, like opposing forces. There are some people that I absolutely get along with, that I feel totally comfortable around, and I am myself, the self that doesn't come out for 99.9% of people I meet, sadtosay, that there is this lingering feeling like I care so much to keep this alive I'll probably fuck it up by trying to hard to hold on to it. I can't, I can't hold on, it isn't mine to hold on to, that it will flutter away, the more I try to keep it down the more violent it rips out from my palms, and the farther it goes. Fuck.
There are 6.8 billion people out there, if I'm lucky I'll meet some high number in the tens of thousands in a lifetime, and even then that is a lot, that might just be too much, and I am going to be constantly changed by these people, coming in and leaving my life, always. For. Ever. There are traces of who I am, the essence or whateverthefuck it is, from all the people I ever met or known of, and even the people that the people I meet met that transcends through them into me. Where one great person is replaced by another, and to spite how stubborn I am, how much I just want this one, just this one, don't take this one away from me, waaah-waaah-waaannnn goes the baby, I can't, I just can't. And out of all the things that are shitty in life, that is the shittiest, saying goodbye without a bye, just an abrupt ending. And it isn't over then, no, they eventually get replaced by someone else, and all those feelings, all that they were that remains in you, as far as you can tell, is given a new face, a new body, and you carry on, oblivious to your past. I can say I put my foot down, but I can't, it isn't up to me.
My father survived that fiery car, I wasn't there, nor was I born yet, and if he had died in the car, and exploded with it, I wouldn't be here. And if my grandfather from my mother's side hadn't gotten stuck in that barbwire in Africa during the second World War, and his friend, who toured with him through Europe, who survived with my grandfather, hasn't gone ahead and gotten blown up from a land mine, I wouldn't be here either, neither would my mother.
The Point: Crazy shit has happened for me to get to this point, for whoever you are to come here, and for you to read this, to be alive, for me to be alive, for us to be sharing this moment, and hopefully the next. And we are not giving an answer to why this is significant, nor the meaning of life, but it is the fact that we are both alive, living in our respectable worlds, meeting people, watching the sun set and watching it come back up the next day. We are lucky to be where we are, to ever to have friends, family, to have fallen in love, or come close enough to it. We are lucky to have each damn moment into the next, and over and over, everything. So this is where I tell myself to stop being a bitch about ever, ever complaining for something, for wanting something so bad, and not getting it, I have no right, after all I had been given. Chillout man.
I fall asleep rambling tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow as Daisy's fog light glows through the night, forever, after seeing everything that happens in the Great Gatsby.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


(Mother and Son Reunion, early work image for The Barking Wall, 2010)

I think I only really asked for one miracle ever in my life, it was for my parents to sell their condo and not to have two montages. They had found a beautiful little plantation house for the right money, and couldn't let it get away, they just had to buy it, and so they did, and put their place-at-the-time on the market. It remained on that market for two years, maybe even longer, I just remember it being a long time, and that the word, recession, was in everyone's mouths. I prayed on most nights, even the nights I came home stumbling drunk, I sobered up to have a one-sided conversation with God, asking him, like I did the night before to give my parents a miracle.
Eventually it reached a point where I wasn't sure anymore, things in the regular scheme of life show signs of change within a year or so, it was well over a year, and I kept at it, avoiding being a negatron about the whole thing. My mother would call me, tell me how bad it was, how the broke got broker, and how she and my father were working their asses off, literally. In my prayers I usually say the same thing, asking for my folk's condo to be lifted off of their shoulders, and to take care of those I care the most for (my parents, the rest of my family, my close friends), and ask to say hi to some people I know up there (heaven), how they were doing. When I think back at it, when I was doing all the praying, I wonder now, in retrospect, what I really thought about putting my hands together and thinking, clearing my mind and directing my thoughts to nowhere, somewhere, idontknow. If I pray today I feel the same, there is a bit of uncertainty, but just as much certainty as well, and that whether or not a miracle did happen for my parents when their condo sold, or if there is a God or gods, I will never know (at least, in this life time). The whole thing is a mystery, leaving me alone just as much as I have been all my life. It is the fact I am completely neutral I find no need to change, to believe or not believe, for there is no advantage or disadvantage being in this state. I could never stand church, in Junior High and Middle school when my mother would occasional ask me to go with her, I'd sleep with my head in her lap, it was an Episcopal church, they're not a lot of people in there, everyone was chilled out, the priest was always funny, so no one ever paid me much mind if I was sleeping.
When I moved from the bible belt of the south to Toronto years back I remember going from knowing a lot of religious people to knowing none, it was then I became very neutral. I never really presented myself ever as religious, or even as a God-believing person, then again I'm not really quite sure how one does that, look like Ned Flanders in green cardigans and maintain a perfectly meaty moustache? I once tried to go to church here, it was two seconds from my place at the time, it was this baptist church in the middle of chinatown, they sang gospel. And to spite it being mono-racial, I didn't necessarily feel out of place, or uncomfortable, I felt closer to them than any other church I had been to. I didn't know any of the words they were singing, I lipped once and while, and stood or sat when everyone else was standing or sitting. At the end of ceremony I left the same way I came, without a word, and I never went back. That was the only time I ever went to church on my own will, just to experience it, and when I experienced it, once was good enough, it was fresh enough to keep me around, but I could see nothing more in continuously going.
I often wonder what the future will be like, if I have kids, will I start going to church, simply because that's what my mother did, and simply because we all turned out pretty good, none of us turned into nasty people, crime-committing evil-doers, we care, and at least until we were old enough to decide if there is a god or not, we were never really alone. Alone. Maybe that's it, the thing that holds me to a deity, is that, to spite how separated, how alienated I become, I will never be completely alone, there is a god within me, keeping me together, keeping some sense of hope alive, like coming home and there always being a warm fire, on some days being just amber but still there. I have a strong sense of self, but even that can be destroyed, knocked out by a storm temporarily, and instead of falling into an endless pit of despair I have the illusion of something, something being there, a light of guidance, showing me there is a future. This is all ridiculous, this is all nonsense, but even all of my experience and all of my acknowledgement of future can be rendered useless, I know after heart break, after everything goes to shit that I will recover, things will get better, and that I will mend and recreate, step up, and climb the ladder, I will return, stronger, and that this has happen over and over, time after time, and that this will always continue to happen sodealwithit, I know THIS, but even that can be useless. In a place where I know my feelings are illusions as well, a chemical response to the state I am in, that I am machine, my body feels this way because of this, that, and that it is a mechanical reaction, that something that happened without my control of it, knowing that I have no control of the sequence of events nor my feelings, there is comfort in knowing it is just a reaction, but sometimes the feelings, the chemistry is too strong of a poison, and all my experience and all my knowledge is not good enough to keep me from falling completely apart. What then? I fall to religion, I fall to this god which exists within me, and it is blind-faith, the strongest illusion, that overrides feeling hopeless, lost, and alone. This may or may not for others, and I could care less, what people do, if they choose to believe in something or not, and that in the end, once the shit hits the fan all we got, all I got is myself, and whatever else remains, is an illusion, something, a mist, a cloud, a fog, a transparency, a miracle, a nothing, something that cannot be explained, something left undone, something something, something that is something, not a void, not a lack of, but something. I got that. I got that, at least.
After the universe expands to its limits it will eventually (in theory) contract, and return to a singular point, once everything is undone, everything is compressed into a vacuum, and all is gone, there remains one thing, a singularity, just one point, everything that was anything in one point, and perhaps it isn't a god, or anything that could be given a name or a definition, but just a singular point in the middle of the universe surrounded by a nothing that isn't even nothing it just doesn't exist. It is something I will never see with my own eyes, something that is only a theory, an idea, a thought provoking thought, spoken, written, and given to anyone to believe or not to believe, changing very little about your life, and changing it all like a table being turned violently underside down and thrown against the ground hard, and the ground itself gives in, and everything around it falls into a darkness that swallows everything. Destruction, chaos, peace, harmony, angels singing Aquarius, beams of light piercing the clouds, halos, levitation, walking over water, once-blindness now clarity, miracles happen everyday.
Can you hear that, not the music you're listening to, or the people chattering behind you, not the sound of traffic, not the sound of wind, or objects hitting the floor, nor birds chipping, the cat's meow, the dog's bark, the couple in the apartment above having passionate-sounding sex, none of that, can you hear nothing, can you hear the void of your soul, that static linger, the hum of your body, when you are not thinking, when you are free of distractions, and notice it has always been there, living between the noises of your everyday, your very thoughts, and will continue to be there, it is the space above our heads, below our feet, it is absolutely everything, it is neither god nor human, it is just, just, just, that something, we can give it a name, we can rise buildings in its name, it doesn't make it any stronger, nor does it give it a life in which can be taken away and die, it was here before us, after us, and will always remain. Can you hear this?

Monday, November 14, 2011


I'm dying, I'm dying, I'm dying (without you). And other things that will never be said, spoken, let loose in the air with a pound of flutter, and flap-flap-flap flop. So many things. Yes. so many I feel tongue-tied. Release me and I will spin, shake, rattle, and roll so hard I'll scare everything from here to Tucson. And so it begins.

In Carlsbad, a few of us, the brave, ventured off. A legend of a bet was made, to dance and to keep dancing as long as you could, enter the darkness of the desert and to make it to the other side, alive, if there was another side. Was there? At first I felt embarrassed, I was dancing alone, with no music either, like extras in a movie, but at least they had someone, they had purpose to their dance, what was mine? A strange rhythm took my body, entering it with cold fingers, unknown to me, I felt not myself, but I was lost in myself, in my dance, the more I moved, the more it made sense, but it was otter nonsense. The boys who entered at the same time were off to my sidelines, I could hear them shuffling, I wondered how they were dancing, and then thought of them thinking of me dancing, I sudden had an audience, but I already felt eyes burning into my back when I was giving her my back, and eyes burning into my chest and my hips when I was giving her my front. I wasn't trying to be sexy, I was, which isn't normal for me, but in moments like this, I felt I had some sex appeal, or else all was lost (long before being lost in the desert, long before the set of sun).
I felt the ground beneath me rumble, I was digging myself into the ground, foot by foot, I dug myself a grave. I was still moving forward but I was just underground now, not to be seen, to spite I still felt her eyes burning into either my chest or back, occasionally butt, burning my butt. The rumble grew louder, the darkness of night was now complete, and I couldn't tell what was approaching (only the things around me as they glowed in faint amber from the fiery burn my feet were making and feeling). Everything was rumbling up, my words, my feelings, all that I couldn't say them, all that I couldn't do then were moving my legs, bleeding in the sweat of my thighs, steaming up, and producing a mystic scene of my fiery feet. I swear I could hear moaning, and truth-be-told I wasn't sure if it was her or me, but it was somebody, and that was when the ground, the very ground that stretched endlessly in the darkness ended, spending me to a violent plummet off of a merciless cliff. My shirt ripped open, waving like old glory in the winds of freedom, my long wild and curly hair danced in the wind, wiping my cheeks a red. I started to sing, what I sung, I cannot remember, something my heart was feeling the moment it blew up in my chest.
I saw her, her eyes were crying with blood, drops fell into a dish of water she carried in slow motion. A giant made of boulder grew from the desert, and I hit flat like a lifeless piece of shit, and I swear I didn't die just then, no, I didn't even feel anything, just a bit of sand in my mouth, ahh-bah-chew-wee as I spat it out. I got up, and rather than brushing the dust off with my hands I continued to dance. I figured I had about four more levels of desert floor to go, my feet still on fire, I couldn't help but grin, look back to those eyes, piercing, forever watching, and just say back, with my eyes, "When are you going to join me, all I want to do with dance-dance-dance with you." Word-up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slug Life

(Currently Untitled Stalactite, from The Barking Wall, 2011)

Darkness never lost it's evil, it's crawling with demons, all things scary dwelling within, -ness. I made the transition from a child to a tween to a teen to a young adult without darkness ever changing. Growing up my mom thought it would be better to sleep in the same bed as my sisters, and since I had two I often switched between the two, or when one was gone there was always the other. I'm better sure my mom was careful of who was sleeping over at who's that night because my sisters were never both out, both gone, both leaving me alone in bed. When my oldest sister left the house after highschool and my older sister started dating on the regular, often having some boy over, or she would sleep over at his place I'd sleep in my parent's bed, with my parents. My dad snores, and I'm pretty sure my mom does too (sorry, mom), but that was fine, I had someone there beside me, protecting me from the darkness. When I was old enough I'd have the girls I was dating sleep over, it wasn't every night, they'd have to lie to their less-lacked parents about sleeping over a girlfriend's. Those nights, spent with someone outside of my family were different, better, but different, perhaps not the same comfort, something missing, and the part of another person that you never grew up with, that stranger part of them, was in the bed with you. Each girl sleeps differently, some more inviting than others, some fitting alongside your body better. Some would always put your arm to sleep, you'd take it, wake up in the middle of the night without an arm, and some just fit perfectly. I remember having "snuggle buddies", those few that were always down to sleep over, without sex, without any chit-chat, just sleep, holding each other, all night long. I often wondered if they too had spent their lifetime sleeping around, finding a bed that isn't so alone, hidden in the darkness.
I can count the times I slept alone in bed, not enough for someone my age, and over the years I've learned to accept that I slept in the same bed as my parents until my highschool graduation when I moved out. Those first few months, looking for friends, and people OK with just sleeping in the same bed as you were hard, the darkness seemed to grow more menacing. I've become good at asking, and convincing, people to sleep over, sleep in the same bed, it was either that or the darkness, something I still can't get over, something that still remains this meaningless demon haunting me in same effect as the day I was born. Now as an adult, I look at the darkness the same as I look at sadness that has always been there, I can analyze it, demythtify it, breaking down my emotional response to a chemical reaction, seeing the full scheme of cause and effect, and once I understand why I am sad, what darkness is, and the fear it produces, it starts to have a face, I start to know it better. My imagination ceases to be, it is no longer wild, but explained by reason, in a logical state of mind, I breathe easy, take each step one at a time, and enter the void, the cavity of darkness, the part of me never complete, something left undone my entire life.
Slugs. Yeah, slippery, holding on to each other, becoming one, fitting within, like pieces of a puzzle. I think we're both puzzling pieces, but when we're together it all somehow makes sense. The darkness falls, it is late Autumn, it get dark sooner these days, the sun is far from it's happy place it has in the summer, and it now burns the sky, is absent, and is mysterious. I can smell something that enters my nose, fills my lungs, and enters my bloodstream, it is intoxicating, it smells beautiful, something that lasts all night long. My fingers creep, I hold to what is faintly before me, in the faintest of light, I watch endless, eyes closed, sleeping away, beauty, beauty, a moment captured only in that state borders on dreams, I am barely here, I am drifting away.

Art from the Heart 11/12/11

This Saturday, November 12, 2011, from 7-10pm (at 25CPW 25 Central Park West), NYC, I'll have a little piece in a group show. This will be the first time I'm showing in New York City, and I'll even be there. Special thanks to The Vanderbilt Republic for putting this night o'art together and for thinking I cut the mustard just right for them. More info on the show and the organization, click here. And a special thanks to Nathan "Shnasty" Cyprys for referring me to this submission.

Flash Forward

This Wednesday is the Flash Forward book launch and exhibition, at the Airship 37 (37 Parliament St., Studio 2), 7 - 10pm (with the show continuing in that space till the 16th of November). Flash Forward is a collection of emerging artists from Canada, US, and UK, organized by The Magenta Foundation, and it was a tough cookie to get into if I might say. This year I will be in it, and will have work in the traveling exhibition, which starts this Wednesday, and will continue to Boston in the spring.

Shift, Shifting, Conventions

Tonight is the Shift 5 book launch tonight at the OCADU Student Gallery, from 7-9. Big thanks to Antonio Lennert and Symon Oliver for their work, and for having me on board. For more info on the book, click here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Honey Dripper

(Stealth Site No.1, 2011)

We lost him. Never been sure enough about anything. I sat there watching the road move in reserve, the yellow dotted stripes slowly passing like star trails during warp speed. The rain came rolling down the window, my eyes were dry but I felt like I was crying, watching the darkness of the world creep into my very soul. Every now and then headlights would shine through the darkness, coming close to hitting us, and veer just in time, just in the nick of time, and pass by. Darkness returns until the next car, or truck. Jesus Christ, what is wrong with this bus driver.
Jimmy Page was a chocolate lab, I took him everywhere I went, not that I did a whole lot of traveling, he was just always there, with me, waiting for me to return from work, waiting for me to finish my shower before finding his favorite spot to sleep, at the end of bed. I never married, not that it is too late for that, nor did I have children, which was too late for that. And I was fine with all that, as I walked Jimmy Page through the park, throwing him a tennis ball with my catch/toss stick. Sometimes I'd imagine myself deaf, blind, and mute, and when I really let myself go into that idea I imagined Jimmy Page being able to guide me through my world, he would save me from a burning building, a vandal on the street biting him in the boys. Perhaps I would never know my life was being saved, the world would be lined with fur and sharp things, all darkness, just that fur keeping me there, safe, never alone. I started to cry, thinking of what that dog would have to go through if I had lost all those senses, walking aimlessly, and depending completely on him. He would carry the weight of two on his shoulders.
The snow hasn't fallen, it is actually quite warm for November, the sun is out, and on a day everyone was expecting rain it is quite lovely weather. I can't help but feel miserable, like a part of me has been removed, and perhaps that is more true than anything. Something is missing.
There is a moment just after I wake up that I feel free of this feeling, like it was a bad dream and I escaped. There is no mercy from my feelings, my dog, my Jimmy Page died. I feel caged in a small box just large enough to fit my bent over body, the walls are cold and the tips of my fingers stick to its surface. Everyday this box oscillates from bigger to smaller, on the days it is smaller I can't help but feel absolutely lost. On the days it is bigger I can appear to be happy, content with life, which is far from the truth, what if I went blind, lose my hearing, and worst, I can't talk, what then, who will be there for me. Not Jimmy Page, as much as his spirit was with me, he was very much not here anymore.
One day, wearing my shirt that has Jimmy Page's portrait on it with the numbers, 1999 - 2011, a coworker of mine asked me if I believed in reincarnation. I never gave it any thought, thinking it was some Buddhist stuff about watching where you step, not to eat animals, and to believe life never ends -it just takes on another form. She told me that she once had a rabbit when she was a girl, and that one day it stopped moving. She had carried it around for hours before her parents realized that her rabbit was dead. She was seven when this happened and instead of her parents telling her that her rabbit, Fluffles, had gone to rabbit heaven, they told her that it went on to become another animal. Sofia, my coworker telling me this story, tells me she didn't believe her parent's words, that she was too sad at the loss of her dear Fluffles that she didn't want to imagine him anywhere but here in her arms. It wasn't until she went on a camping trip with her parents when she came across a frog by a small pond. The frog stood there, watching young Sofia slowly approach him, and when her small little fingers came climbing over his head he didn't move, he let her take him into her hands. Sofia looked long and hard into the frog's eyes, she saw something in them. After about a minute of this staring contest she let him down, the frog stood there for a moment before jumping away into the bush somewhere. Sofia, the one which has turned into adult, tells me she believes Fluffles, her rabbit, found new life in the form of that frog. And that she was happy, knowing that he was free now, beyond any kind of Heaven, he was to roam the earth in all walks of life. Something in her words struck me, gave me peace, and that night I found sleep that wasn't followed by tears. I prayed to Buddha, I asked him where my Jimmy Page was, what was he now, if I could see him again, to have a moment like Sofia's, to say goodbye, I really needed to say goodbye.
Every minute of free time I had I spent on looking for Jimmy Page. In those days I was neither happy nor sad, but anything was better then how I was feeling prior to Sofia's words. I read everything on the subject of Reincarnation, with a focus on pets being reincarnated. I came across personal accounts of owners finding their pets in new forms, they all talked like they had been abducted by aliens, no one believed them, only the ones who knew their pain and didn't give up on their pets even after they passed away in whatever form they were would understand these stories, these pet owners. I wondered what Jimmy Page was before he was a dog I owned, I imagined him as a wolf, where he was free in an endless desert, I imagined him as an owl flying high above looking over the forest late at night. I imagined him as a human, a small boy, with parents, did they know he would be a dog some day? I wanted to meet these people, I wanted to live in the forest he was an owl in, the desert he was a wolf in, I wanted to be reincarnated as well, I wanted to be whatever he was, I wanted to be happy with him again.
Every weekday I worked, I can't remember the last time I took off, my days all blend into each other. Eventually all the material I could gather stopped bringing anything new to me, and that was when I decided to leave, to take my search out from the books and into the world. I started by spending my Sundays feeding the pigeons and squirrels in the park. I took the bus to Montauk, to Mashomack, to Rocky Point, no sign, no frog, no cat, no such thing sitting there, waiting, looking at me, not running away as I approach it, no staring contest, no soul that matched my Jimmy Page. I was sad again. I wanted to roll up and die, as pathetic as that was, an middle-aged woman wanted to just die-die-die. For the first time in my life I had no purpose. Sofia, save me, tell me something new, something that would give my spirits some energy, I was down, I needed something to keep me going, I couldn't do it alone, I need some guidance.
And something did happen. I swear to God, I swear to Buddha, something very much happened. In all my doubts, after letting go of everything, everything being everything but my will to find Jimmy Page again is when it happened. It was a day like any other, I was looking down to my feet, I felt strange, not having any hope, little will to live, and just kept on going on in whatever this life I had when I stepped on a dog. Rather than it barking out in pain, or even moving, it just continued to lay there. This was in the middle of the city, coming from work. I stepped on its tail, not all the way, I realized halfway into it and pulled back. He looked up at me, it was a white lab, he had a smile on his face, he looked to be still a pup, no more than seven months old. It had been seven months since Jimmy Page had passed away. Things were making sense. I kneel down and pet him on the head, he gets excited. I scratch his neck, focusing my efforts behind his collar, he loves it. At first I was afraid to look him in the eyes, I didn't want to look into them only to realize he wasn't Jimmy in there, golden boy, a miracle, but miracles happen everyday, I needed to know, I needed to be strong and so I took a leap of faith. Into his eyes, they were the same eyes as Jimmy Page's, and in a vortex of black we made a connection. I thought of Sofia's story, and something was complete now, I was no longer a bystander to it, I was experiencing exactly what she had, I was staring at a life which was thought to have ended but had transformed, finding its way into another vessel, and what a beautiful vessel it was. Soft to my hands, I heard a voice calling out.
"Roberta. Roberta Plant."
Roberta looked over to her, then back to me, he was a she. I can't tell you what I thought about him changing sexes and how that would feel, and how I never thought about sex change during reincarnation ever. Her master came up to the two of us, she looked over and apologized. I didn't know what she was apologizing about, I was the one who had stepped on her dog's tail, and started petting it. I asked Roberta's master how old she was, the dog that is, and I was right, she was seven months old. I told her how beautiful her dog was. She thanked me. I told her I had a chocolate lab just like it, and when she asked how old it was I started to cry. I wasn't sad, nor happy, but in something bittersweet, I had found Jimmy Page, after all was almost lost, I found him, her. Her master, Patricia, asked if I was ok, and when I didn't respond she came over and padded my back then started making small circles. Her face said, I'm really confused but something inside of me feels pity for you, you look like you've gone through a lot, a lot of what, I don't know. I stopped crying, and showed signs that I was returning back to my normal self, Patricia had been with me the whole time, and it was getting dark. Patricia excused herself, said it was really nice meeting me, we didn't exchange names so we introduced each other while shaking hands.
-Nice to meet you.
-We honestly must be on our way. I hope you feel better, I am sorry about your dog.
-Jimmy, Jimmy Page.
-Yes, Jimmy Page...(linger)
As they were walking away my thoughts were all over the place. By the time I cleared them up enough to talk they were far away, faint representations in the setting sun. I ran after them like a crazy lady, and when they stopped I came up to them in a pant.
-Could I. Could I see Roberta again someday. Your dog reminds me of my dog so much, and like no other dog, it is the only thing that makes my heart stop hurting so much?
Patricia's choices were to run away, say yes and give me a business card with a false number on it, no, or yes, and actually yes, I will let you see my dog every once in a while you crazy lady.
She said yes.
Now every Sunday, instead of going alone to the park I see Jimmy, I see Roberta, I see him, I see her, growing up again, growing old again. I know I must sound crazy, I know I must be ridiculous, but there are things in life that are as simple as a dog's love, as easy as petting its fur, as loving as you know you two were meant to be, in this life and the next. Some things are strange, some things are stranger, where one life ends another begins, and this keeps on going on, over and over, until my mind starts to swirl, and I fall asleep, but this time without the tears. I know how to smile again. The bus continues to move backwards, I forgot where we are going, Patricia lost Roberta, and we're going to find her, and somehow I feel like it won't be hard at all. Not this time...(again with the linger)