Sunday, May 19, 2013

...of friends and odysseys, dreams and truth

Things need not have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles.
Dreams are real.
But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.

Neil Gaiman

My friend, Eileen, took this photo a few weeks ago. A complete moment in a silent tableau. She wanted one more shot: "I was gunning for an HDR version, but then the little goober grabbed his bike and cycled off. Definitely a zen moment." 

Eileen's depth and talent would be deplorable if not for her self-depracating humor and love of irony, her great heart and her loyalty. She is, after all, the same one who snapped the following shot, aptly titled "Manhattan Scratchpad".

And this one, of which she said: "This morning in Exchange Place we bump into Frank's co-worker and head toward the WTC. The co-worker says Captain America is on this train and I'm thinking: 'Buddy, there were more than Wheaties in your breakfast this morning.' I turn around and gosh darn."

One afternoon she walked and searched until she found Chaplain Mychal Judge's name on the WTC memorial. I had told her about the impact of watching as the priest's body was carried from the rubble. So she sent me this:

I am one lucky woman to have such a friend. Understand, Eileen and I appear to be quite disparate creatures. I am tall; she, petite. She is of Asian descent. My family tree roots run through Europe with nary a drop of Eastern blood coursing through our veins. [I am, however, the more Zen-nish.] She is brilliant. I am so not. An incredible pianist, she recently finished the third song, "Thelxiepeia's Lament" of a trilogy, Haunted Dreams. [The links to all three pieces can be found at the end of this post.] I sang in the shower yesterday. In a most unlikely setting, we found each other. In the intervening years, we have laughed, cried, and kvetched together and the relationship has grown dearer for all of this.

Like my friend and I, these photos are markedly dissimilar. One is quiet in its stillness. The others shout. NYC overwhelms in volume but speaks volumes through individuals and communities measured in city blocks. Together the pictures tell stories unfettered by facts, rich in Truth.  

Much like a good Cabernet Franc, Truth is distilled. The process involves stomping, crushing, and waiting through long seasons, often harsh and cruel. But the vines survive these periods by sending their roots deep into the earth. Hmmmm. Is there a lesson here?

I've never taken a step in the city, other than to land at JFK and take off again. Hard to believe. The city that never sleeps is high on my bucket list, higher now that Eileen and Frank are there. I remember flying over NYC at night. A late flight out of Boston tracked down the congested northeast corridor. Our pilot gave us an aerial loop around New York, with a running commentary. Lady Liberty shone in the Hudson and, just beyond, the Twin Towers surged above the other rooftops. I would recall that night and weep less than a year later when those buildings fell. 

Now the new World Trade center stands in Manhattan, its spire in place. Fears of isolation due to stringent security measures in the complex are being voiced. Rest assured, this iteration of the WTC, like the rest of us, will have a finite existence. Another child will speed along on training wheels, with brief stops for potty breaks and ice cream. Other grafitti artists will speak on new surfaces. Or, as in the case of "Manhattan Scratchpad", scrawl their messages over earlier ones. We don't need to know the names of the child, of the artists, of those who ferry to work and ascend the towers to know the truth: life goes on. Gaiman is right:  Dreams...are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes. From these dreams, hope is re-born. Every time a baby howls at birth. Every time a weary worker gets up and suits up to feed a family.

Eileen and I have been pruned. We've over-wintered more times than we can count. But our roots run deep in the subtext of our lives. My palimpsest pal, I love you. Go forth and shoot. Play that piano. Tell me more stories and I will tell you mine. 

By the way, Frank and Eileen are now official Humans of New York, as documented in this photo by Brandon Stanton. [NOTE: One day I will document this couple's unofficial photos of "Signs of New York" but I'm fresh out of Depends at the moment. I laugh every time I look at them.]

Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles.
Dreams are real.

Thank you, Eileen (and Frank, too) for helping to keep my dreams alive.

Now, ya'll, I highly recommend that you take a listen to Eileen's work. 
The songs of the trilogy are named for the Sirens of Greek mythology.
Born of Eileen's own odyssey.

And, as urged by Neil Gaiman, go forth and make some art.
(Thank you, Denise and Martha, for reminding me this morning.)


Denise Williams said...

Beautiful, Celeste! You are an inspiration! Love ya...

Celeste Bracewell said...

backatcha, m'dear...

eileensauer said...

Celeste, thank you so much! I just poked my head up, still recuperating after a few crazy weeks at work. I just feel lucky having such ann extensive palette to work with, called NYC. We're coming close to our June 18th 1 year anniversary living here, and it's been absolutely amazing. So glad we live in an age where we can share our experiences. :) Take care, we love you and miss you too.