December 1 = November 30 late at night. I have about three hours tomorrow and Friday to get my final “Focus on Yourself” photo class day done. I realize I have no trouble focusing on myself. It is all I have to focus on. So according to the class notes, I need to pick from “Community,” “Landscape,” or “Dreams.”
Well, I am my own community and I am my own landscape, can’t escape it. I guess all I have is dreams. Even though I have had so many dreams come true, they don’t seem to stick around. I wanted sheep and had them 35 years, I wanted to live at the end of a curvy driveway in the woods and I did, I wanted to get married and have at least two blonde children which I did, I wanted to be a farmer and I was, I wanted to play the guitar and knit and sew and every time I turned around I wanted to do something else.
I have never felt part of a community although I have lived (before email and internet) in a great community of like minded people and friends, mothers with children my children’s age, people I could spend hours talking to, sitting at the kitchen table or while hanging out at a birthday party that seemed to happen every weekend, but I never felt like I belonged. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t feel a need to belong to a community in order to feel like myself. I felt always on the edge of every group I’ve been in or at or part of, even though I was physically in the middle as much as anyone else. At jobs I’ve had I have felt like I’m an audience for the other people that work there, and that they are dragging me along with them by a thread that I let them hold. Then when anything doesn’t go my way I act like a brat/bitch/jerk.
So now, in Port Townsend, my community is two sets of friendly generous, lovely neighbors that I can easily tolerate for the short bits of time I am with them. I speak with them but don’t email. We have never talked about anything emotional though, nothing really personal; and the landlord that I see once in a while, and his helper that shows up every day to refurbish one of the other apartments. Then there are the people at the gym I go to three times a week when I’m not working, but I don’t stay long, and it’s locker room talk, probably deeper in meaning than with my two sets of neighbors. Then there are the two choruses I’m in with some of the same people, but we don’t chat and I don’t know all of their names and don’t mind if I don’t know them, then there’s the bell group I am definitely a part of because of the need for my notes to be played. I am surrounded by people in all these groups. Is that my community? I do not feel like it. When the donald won the election I thought I maybe needed to start going to church again but Sunday is one of those days I can’t plan to do anything because I’m on call. And it would just be another batch of people, a batch most people would consider “community” but that I would be amidst and watch as an audience.
So for my photo class I won’t do community. How about landscape?
Because I’m always working, the landscape of two of my three jobs is inside my apartment sitting at my desk and looking at my computer monitors lit with other people’s work; or it could be the landscape of my ferry job—always the same, regular, necessary routine with a few bumps in the road when things don’t go well or the weather gets in the way, but lots of it is me all alone in a box or alone going in and out to land the boats and send the traffic and the boats across the water. Then there’s the alley and sidewalks where I walk the dog and pick up poop, it’s the chickens in their tiny house longing to be out as much as I long to let them out, the trunk of my car that I pretend is my barn. Then there are the gray walls of the outside of this building. When I first saw the side of this building I was mortified that I would live in a building like this, but I became desensitized to that. The landscape of the street, cement, tarmac, sidewalks, curbs, crosswalks, stop signs, street lights, bus stops, like a city. “What the heck am I doing here?” (with the emphasis on “here”) often crosses my mind, as I amaze myself every month when I somehow manage to scrape up enough money to pay my rent.
So the juxtaposition of the way it was to the way it is, the way we were. That’s the dream on the back of my mind, discomfort and reverie, grief and solace, desire and memory, and I will make some “double exposures” to combine them.