Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Friends Visit...

                                              Marina and Jeanine in our lounge room

When friends visit, when they interrupt all, scrape the time and money together, and fly for almost 23 hours to reach us, our hearts, our lives, are never the same. Lady Di and I have known Jeanine Olsen for 17 years, since 1998, when I was a guest artist at the Chicago Art Institute and Jeanine was my keeper for our time there. A short time later, we shared 13A, together for a few months until Jeanine found her New York feet. Marina we met some years later on our visits back to the old country, as my New York now seems. How often we said, come visit us, knowing that it is only our younger friends now who can make the journey, but more, knowing the deep pleasure they both brought to our lives, their art, their politics, their histories, their sense of play. And for two weeks, in February, we shared our lives once again, this time in the southern hemisphere.
                                                 Jeanine and a new friend

                                                          The Crew, in Aierey's Inlet along the Great Ocean Road

                       Lady Di, Wearing her Warratah Mombai Shirt, Sharing our Garden

I will return again when I can. Thank you all. Sometime soon it maybe only through images I will find you. But now these words come--our house sings with the markings of Jeanine and Marina, with the ideas and books they left open for me to find--Hilton Als' "White Girls," a copy of  "The Brooklyn Rail," an alternate art and culture newspaper and the name K.Sue Park  in whose work I have found a brilliant reopening of the history and relevance of the indigenous displacements of America's first people and this history's shadow in the settlements of Israel, how frontiers are not the places we thought  them to be but the calculated face of national wars on its own unwanted nations.
 From a vast height, I look down at our friends and Lady Di taking in the Southern Ocean with its                                                                       AntArtic messages

For three days, they left us, flying into the continent's center, Alice Springs, that other frontier town, and going down the long red road that leads to Uluru, the first Australian's sacred place where the largest stone monolith on this planet tells its story of creation. Jeanine later sends us an image of her raised fist silhouetted against its glowing orange skin.

Sturdy dear younger friends, who walk paths of thought and creation new to me, who once when I needed their arms to make it up a sandy slope, loaned me their strength and when I said, I feel safe with you both, Jeanine said, you should. Aging and distance can often feel like the same creature.

                 In the kiosk at the end of St Kilda's Pier with Cello firmly in Marina's lap

                                          At our dining room table with books I wanted them to see including                                                                     "Haifa Fragments" by khulud khamis, my gift to them

17 years ago along Chicago's Lake, we met an artist whose hand I will always hold.

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