the space(s) between

April 27, 2009

remember around valentine’s day when i blogged about love? how it was consuming, and saturating, and fluid, moving around and filling up all the tiny spaces in my life, bringing joy, and angst, hunger, and comfort. two months later, here i am still, watching it all continue to move, when i can step away from things for a moment to find quietude, or a place to sit down and just let everything wash down over my head. all these visceral shifts are taking place – literally, i feel them – and what i’ve found, sitting right next to love and gratefulness in all those openings and internal empty spaces is, well, space.

i mean space in every way you can imagine. physically, emotionally, my head space, my heart space, the space under my ribs when i remember to breathe, the vibrating, chemical space between me and the handsome stranger (why does that always happen at the market?), the wide open space surrounding my 117 pound frame in my over-sized bed. maya is there with me at times, the space between us so whisper thin that it barely exists, her hair in mine, her arm thrown across my chest, her bedtime breath warm on my neck.

space figures enormously here in kerri-lynne land. i am preoccupied with and compelled by and acutely sensitive to my environment. for me the moving of furniture is an organic, never-ending ritual (poor rick used to crash in to the new arrangements in the dark after a gig. awakening to an exasperated ‘dammit kerri!’ at three in the morning became a common line in our shared-life song), not for how it looks but for how the movement of it can invigorate and inspire. rearranging furniture is like hitting the refresh button on my computer – going in, making changes, moving things around until the feeling is just right, then hitting a button to lock it in. until the need arises to mix it all up again.

at home are all of the things. the colors and textures and objects that create a certain space. there are corners of refuge, centers of activity, places to bundle up, strip down, spread out the paints, or the newspaper, or the wineglasses once the food has been made and someone is on their way. photographs line the mantle to show friends where and who we come from, and to remind us of who we have been. the wedding picture in the wedding picture frame now holds the christmas picture of maya; thus it is now the maya picture frame. but it has its history, and remembers what it once stood for, especially with the beautiful black & white photograph of ricky and me cracking up during our wedding ceremony tucked safely behind the picture of maya. lest we all forget.

and if it seems silly, the way i believe that objects carry history – that we can feel it, sense it, the way picking up something and turning it over in your hand can crack open a memory or send a vibration of recognition down your spine, then perhaps there is a difference between old souls and young. i once, in my twenties, left my office in pasadena to grab a coffee and get some fresh air on a weird, blustery spring day. the wind was pushing leaves and trash around the streets, and the air was charged with something, as though a storm was about to hit. i stepped in to my favorite antique store on green street, and for one single moment, when my hand touched the doorknob, everything went to black and white and i couldn’t remember my name and had no idea where i was. as quickly as it flashed it was over, but i can pull that memory up from fifteen years ago and remember just how it was to lose my sense of self and equilibrium, no matter how fleeting the experience was.

my relationship to and with objects is absurdly strong, it has always been this way for me. when i was little i would go in to the field behind our house and find the most beautiful rocks, rocks that sparkled with color under black light. in idyllwild it was arrowheads that had been buried for years, even a geode once that my neighbor broke open, revealing clusters of crystals inside. my mom was convinced i would become a geologist, so quirky and informed was my ability to find stone treasures amid a dusty field or shady mountainside. eventually the rocks got tucked in to boxes, which eventually got pushed to the back of my closet. but the desire to find connection, feel history, turn something over in my hand and let it resonate, never left. it just parlayed itself in to other sorts of objects as i moved down different paths.

and so my house, in all of its elegant-old-treehouse-by-the-ocean-ness, is a gallery of sorts, the space that contains all the things i’ve created, collected, held and loved. old clocks and paintings and too many cups. there is a long, wooden slab of sorts – it has legs and holds no purpose except to provide a resting place for the dried lemons and artichokes and pomegranates i’ve carted around for way too many years; dusty, faded, dry fruit that is a perfect still-life, a memory-induced journey to a friend’s sparse apartment in old montreal. blair had a bowl of dried fruit in the center of a quiet wooden table, in the middle of a pale dining room surrounded by more pale walls and rooms. it was the only splash of almost-color in the room, and its spare beauty took my breath away at the same time i felt the incredible loneliness of blair’s painfully simple life. his choice, but my sadness. he was as pale as his walls; he needed more objects, more color, to buoy him.

i stop here, for a minute. i look around. maya is suddenly calling out ‘no!’ in her sleep. her voice, her world, her night-time dreams, they are here under our shared ceiling, our shared space. lucy sleeps next to me on her doggybed, snoring; she’ll be there until she makes her way down the hall to my room, so i can help her on to my bed, where we will battle for covers and the ability to stretch out during the night. i walk from room to room. dishes drying, pears in a bowl. the light blinking on my phone, messages from some of the people i love. baskets of paints, piles of wool felt, a stack of children’s books to send out. my work. what drives me, makes sense to me. an olive jar filled with paint brushes. piles of business cards, piles of books, the have-yet-to-read sunday paper. do these things that describe me occupy this space, or do i? or are we simply here together, moving in and out and around each other, co-existing, remembering moments, witnessing the passage of time. keeping in mind that photographs, in frames, sometimes have behind them, providing support, other photographs.


the leap from 43 to 44 last week felt enormous. miles long? hours? i don’t know how to measure it. i only know it appeared at week’s beginning as a simple and painless move from one day to another; by wednesday my birthday was just a day away but i was bouncing between highs and lows as i awaited 44. this all sounds terribly dramatic – really i think it was simply a wonderously strange week.

mondaywas a barbie-dream-day kind of day. coffee & bagels with judes and my sissy lou. loreen giving me The Sister Ring, that one we have been searching for a few years now, the one i haven’t been able to take off (it feels like it has been on my hand always). after coffee, a mystery appointment (fabuloso!), shopping, chicken tawook with extra garlic sauce at open sesame, all the indulgent things i never get to do. the saleswoman at macy’s amazed at my mom’s beauty, at all of us as we [per usual] took over the jewelry & sunglass counters and probably laughed too loud. and in me, a weird sort of soft pride way down deep as, instead of mother, i reveled in the role of daughter and sister for a few moments. i am rarely not a mom; likewise, i am rarely just a daughter or sister. those roles used to accompany me almost everywhere. to feel them now, in moments or hours, means getting to drop everything and feel cared for in the most gorgeous of ways. the day wasn’t extravagant, but it was perfect. perfect gift number one.



i bounced into tuesday. literally. awoke to maya jumping on my head and my bed and within five minutes i morphed into mommie-dearest mom trying to get her fed and to school on time. then lovely coffee with lovely Estranged Husband rick whose birthday it was, and then bam! a weird gear-switch as hours later i packed up my sweet kittycat blue for a visit to the vet where i knew we would say goodbye.

i had planned on doing it alone, but rick in his kindness chose to come, even though it was his birthday. truthfully, i don’t think i could have done it alone. blue was the first little thing i called my own when i came to long beach almost thirteen years ago. her passing last week was for me another really difficult moment of letting go of what was. of saying goodbye to not only her, but to many significant and forever life-altering chapters of my life. she was there, in the background, for so many Big Moments. it was hard and my sadness is without words, but i got to be with blue for a long time before and after, and i was brave and so was she, and ricky drove me home and i got to cry in his car for a long time (thank you ryki). my goodbye to blue and her goodbye to me was very difficult but it was, in its own way, a perfect gift number two.


wednesday was ryan’s birthday, sandwiched between mine and ricky’s. somewhere that day came the unbelievable news that june would be flying down from northern california for friday night! i couldn’t stop beaming. i made a cake and rick and i joined up with everyone in bellefleur to eat the best pizza imaginable and to watch maya hang out with her fake cousins during ryan’s birthday celebration. she absolutely…shone. engaged in kid-conversation, dancing around and giggling with the boys, looking up at the girls with that weird brand of ‘you’re a big girl’ love pouring out of her eyes. rick and i kept exchanging looks and whispering to each other about her everything; her impossible impishness, her voice, her eyes huge as she listened to something with her 5.5 year old earnestness. ricky and maya and i are the most unorthodox family i know. we are three people orbiting around a million commonalities: around parenting, around our own separate evolution(s), around a central and undeniable core of love. within it all, there are moments of joy and gratitude and anxiety and sadness and learning. that is family, whatever it looks like from the outside. we are family. perfect gift number three.

thursday, it became my turn, the big day of landing in the double digits, again. the day was work, work, money and work, but that evening maya’s best pal audrey and my very own susan joined us for mexican food in the neighborhood. the girls drew pictures and clowned around. susan and i drank beer with dinner and talked about life before being ambushed by our girls outside the restaurant. long beach sometimes feels so cast off from the world at large and it was one of those nights… going from one cozy space to the next, we had coffee and rice krispie treats just as the sun was going down. a sunset that was streaks of purple and pink, the santa anas starting to blow their warm winds, the simple sweetness of two of our best friends waving goodbye from across a parking lot. perfect gift number four.




and finally, friday. a lovely calm day before the martini storm to come. a day of puttering around in my pajamas, watching a movie, long distance phone calls, caffe lattes at peets, another movie, a nap and a bubble bath, all leading up to eyeliner and tight jeans and cocktails with my closest friends on a dog-friendly patio at my favorite beach side restaurant. it wasn’t the evening that i had expected, been promised, but it was my birthday, and i vowed to be fully with the people who were choosing to be with me. it was chilly outside but loreen gave everyone scarves as gifts, so we bundled up and spent a gorgeous two hours eating appetizers and drinking before heading to the gaslamp for dancing. a few more girls dropped off along the way, but those of us who remained had more fancy cocktails, laughed our asses off and danced (juney) until last call. ricky rapped in dedication to me, and there were elegant orange candles in my birthday creme brulee. i didn’t want it to end! so delicious, this love-bombing, this saturation, this ending to a week of extremes. my perfect gift number five.