I think they say “no filter” about photos such as this, in which no technological tricksy-ness has been deployed in service of a greener green or bluer blue, or crisper blades of I-hesitate-to-name species of grass and plant-dom. (Though I am working on a bit in which I make up plant names in our garden and refer to them in all seriousness (and without the aforementioned hesitation) with Plant People, perhaps identifying the Great Warbling Whisper Pine Grass Thistle in the foreground here. Perhaps not.)
On the day this picture was taken I was knocked into a reverie by the place, not even remotely entirely pictured here, in which we were situated. I guess you could say “we were at a friend’s house” or something, but really the situation was (always) more nuanced: I would say we are friends, yes, kids in the same school and overlapping—pretty deeply congruent, actually, I found out—ideas about how to exist in the world, but there is newness to the friendship and hopefulness about how it might grow. This is a great thing about living where I live; it seems there is an orientation to growing with and towards others that I have not really felt outside of summer camp. True story: I‘ve never gone to summer camp, so this is just speculation about how it must be to be together with others, trying not capsize a canoe or set every marshmallow on fire. I suppose the canoes and marshmallows here stand in for existing in a college town that is in the midst of what some call Nowhere, where it gets very cold, but all of these alleged challenges (burdens? Come on.) are greatly exaggerated and do not, it turns out, explain why people want to be friends, why such close friendship is possible even though I am well on the other side of the formative times of life during which friendship is kind of the thing you are doing.
Not only was the “friend” part of “friend’s house” more nuanced than the pedestrian “we were at a friend’s house” construction suggested, I would not say we were at a “house.” There was a house, that is for sure, but there was also, in no particular order, a smaller structure with a writing desk in which one could, um, write, indeed in which one is intended to write and supported in one’s writing by what we could call No Filter Surroundings; a silo (I think it is called a silo) that is reverberant in ways that inspired Grand Plans that I will disclose ex post haste; a barn; and land that is being returned to what it might still be had corn and soybeans not begun to resemble money. We walked through trails together on this land, with new friends, and all of the swirling around making a new big thing started to become insistent, and the vectors stopped circling and started pointing in a single direction. Conversations, sounds, processes, previously inhabiting Project Space like ghosts, mostly friendly but also just kind of bouncing off the walls, making lights turn on and off and dropping eggs on the counter, or spilling buttermilk a la that episode of Growing Pains about the ghost, got their proverbial act together and said the same thing: This is where you are now. Make something of it.
Maybe it’s Site Specific Art or some such thing, I am not sure if a concept (genre? approach?) like that really gets at what I mean. What I mean is that I want to do some work in the spaces I mentioned, because they feel like alternate versions of spaces that I inhabit. Those spaces—writing desk, barn, trail—are in the midst of processes that are congruent with, but different than, those I put my spaces through. Being in those other spaces teaches me something about what my spaces are—to the extent that any space is any body’s—like travel teaches a person like me how many ways of being are actually possible. One finds one’s own. I am a chameleon, but if you travel enough, meet enough people, deepen into enough spaces, the chameleon power gets freaked out and fails; too many backgrounds to blend into so you might as well just be any color you like.
What is possible on the land on which I was standing, given the kinds of commitments made to it by our friends, moved me enough to start babbling about how I wanted to drop an anchor in an idea, root to a spot, to take what they had done by living and living and living and see it as a way to use my own hands to listen. This was met with grace, generosity, an invitation to spend some time making recordings, doing some writing, wandering around in the tall grass like someone who has never seen tall grass before. A beginning.
I drape you in the Summer Fronds of Hunkle-Speckled Northern Palm Ferns,