Jaz went on a plane yesterday morning, to Puerto Rico. She keeps sending me amazing pictures of the trees and land and sun and beautiful clay-pot-coloured houses.
She took the images with her iPhone, which I must say, captures a great photo. Olivia’s Interview was born digital by my iPhone: the recording, the images, the video -my entire visual world was captured on the same device for which I communicate; and for her interview, that was symbolic -perhaps Spirit is leading technology in a way none of us can anticipate.
To seal Jaz’s departure, we had a huge meal, and the house of lesbians (which is what I’m keen to calling my apartment) was cleaned with soap and incense and sage. A four-course meal was prepared, and we said a prayer in a circle, our hands clasped, wishing Jaz off to a new journey ahead.
“I miss you already,” is what I texted her the very next day after our midnight meal. I spent the day receiving her photos, in my email, on my iPhone, smiling vicariously through my extended family across a body of water, inhaling the green, walking along the palms, remembering her body, in a word: lush. And I thought about the capturing of these moments; how does one recognize their life, as it is being lived? Is a snap-shot the method, through a device of communication?
I work at StoryCorps as an Archivist. Happily, I am able to test our recording equipment when necessary. I brought home an SLR camera after going to BestBuy to confuse myself over a single thousand dollar purchase. Testing the waters made sense first. I took the camera home to capture, to document, to recognize something.
The Her Saturn Returns anthology of poetry includes images. Chiedza and Jaz have provided their art, but in compiling the poetry and images (and interviews) for the layout, Devonne and I realized we were a few images short. She came over my newly cleaned and saged apartment last night to take photos, go over last minute logistics and formatting, and to purchase some Jamaican oxtail (I live in the beating heart of East Flatbush, afterall).
“Other People’s Money will be short two photos,” she said. And so, my company borrowed SLR performed its duty. Although I wanted to use two more of Jaz’s images, she wasn’t home, and troubling her in Puerto Rico for permission seemed trivial, so I dared to take out my own art.
And there I was, laid out on the floor, years of me, my sweat, smeared across a white textured base, charcoals and pastels and acrylics that paved my pre-saturn world. It had been years since I saw myself. Years since I gave myself any recognition at all.
The option to take photos without flash meant the tripod had to come out, and the camera timer on. Devonne went home to eat, and a lover-friend came by, helping me align my images against the light. This morning, I kissed her to the door, content in returning the camera, and heading to work.
Still, atop my Her Saturn Return binder, left out from the night before, was mail. I opened the envelop with my name hand-written first, and inside sat a newspaper article, affixed with a post-it note.
“Shawn, I thought you would like this,” signed by a familiar name.
And there I was, a feature in a Connecticut newspaper, the article title, Speaker Offers Knowledge about Building Scholarly LGBT Database. Quel suprise!
I stood there alone, in awe, understanding the weight of recognition, and fighting the absence of a lover or friend or colleague to share it… This solitary moment was like Olivia noted, “a core quietness now”. I called my lover-friend, and texted Jaz anyway. The only thing left to do besides write this blogpost, was to seep in the wanting, of course, to capture its image.