17 January 2006
self portrait tuesday #18
I don't know when it happened. I started collecting vintage brown suitcases and couldn't stop. the old ones are lined with coarse satin and smell musty, like old cologne. they are square in shape, sometimes with stripes and I imagine them once being stuffed full with things like stockings and garter belts, blouses and tins of crusty rouge. I imagine they were most at home on trains and buses and in the roomy trunks of old cars, though the ones I have managed to snatch up in past years aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
they have been stacked on either side of the bed and lovingly filled with my history. one suitcase holds all the souvenirs we brought home from our trip to italy (including a little handful of dirt I swiped while we were standing in a field of sunflowers in tuscany). when I open this particular case, it smells like italy to me-- sweet and earthy. another suitcase holds all the love letters, notes, cards and mix tapes I have ever received from ward. I turn several shades of red just thinking about those steamy steamy words waiting to be discovered and wonder if we can bear the consequences of holding onto them. I cringe (and am sick to my stomach) when I think of ava and ezra reading those letters someday. though I could never ever actually bring myself to throw any of them out. another suitcase holds scrapbooks I made growing up, and another holds every journal and diary I ever kept. and the cutest little piece of luggage (that you'll ever lay eyes on) holds all my favorite random special things: a red paper dragon from a chinese new years celebration in new york, a birthday crown made of shells, a swatch of fabric from a costume of an african dance I was in, pearlized chopsticks and coins I brought back from japan, an antique black shawl ward bought me while we were on our honeymoon in new orleans, my college diploma, my photo ID card from the american dance festival, the earrings I wore on our wedding day, my grandpa's black leather watch, the metal tap off the shoe from the first musical I ever performed in... and the list goes on and on and on. anytime I am in the mood to look back (or in this case, examine personal history) I consult the suitcases.
and the suitcases said, "here. look at this one. tell us you don't see a huge chunk of your history right here." oh, yes they did. and the suitcases never lie, people. why would they? what would they have to gain? really, I don't think they're capable. this photo that I found stuck between the pages of an unfinished scrapbook was taken at a time that could be seen as the beginning of Adult Me. I had just moved away from home for the first time (here to atlanta), had just started school, had just begun to work with moving in the spirit. I had my own apartment and was paying my own bills. that day, ward and I were goofing, just driving around downtown atlanta when we discovered a stunning wall of graffiti infamously known as the civic yard. thinking back, I can't believe I got out of the car and posed barefoot for the camera there, all that broken glass and god knows what else. I'm sure I wasn't thinking or maybe I didn't care. years and years later (nine, to be exact) I would become a piece of that wall (look here). and I wonder what I would've thought, had I been able to see the history of my years laid plainly before me. my life in atlanta, my life with someone that would go on to become the father of my two children and a graffiti writer that would paint me as a new mother (only a few steps away from where I was spinning that hot sunny monday afternoon in september of 1992).
the civic yard is no more. for so long, it was a legal wall where graffiti writers were able to paint without fear of being arrested. and then crappy uncool people came in and destoyed the goodness and that's that. it's a boring story as old and predictable as every hollywood movie ever. I'm okay with it, though. landscapes change, people change. if I need a nostalgia fix, I go to the suitcases. the suitcases are always there.
(more gorgeous, fascinating SPTs here and here)