the dreaded Monday ? … “How was your weekend?” … curating your life …

People like to ask on Mondays, “How was your weekend?” Formulating an answer today pushes some of my “crazy Charlie” buttons.

Friday, I realized I had done something to my back. I was a bit crooked, half-a-limp, numb-a-tingle in the extremities. This happens every now and then, no biggie. Once upon a time I would head to the chiropractor, or, more practically, the massage therapist, but now I just take it easy for a few days and wait for whatever was swollen or twisted or slightly unaligned to get righted.

Memory HeadSo, this weekend, I had an excuse not to do anything. Saturday, I intended to meet some friends, but by the time it was time to do so, I had already done some household chore-type things and was aching, which was making me tired, and we’d be meeting in a crowded location and I’d have to park and hike to find them and there might have been (probably would have been) other people there I’d know and wouldn’t have wanted to see and … I stayed home.

Sunday, not only was my back still not quite right (as in, I was crooked) but, too, there was something like a stomach ache or a brick or – well, pain – in my left abdomen-y, side area and so, I spent almost the entire day and night on the couch in my room. I say “almost” because, eventually, I moved to the bed.

So, how was my weekend? Well … how was yours? One of my friends, Ann, sent me this picture:

Ann Steve D.C.That’s Ann, there on the far right, the beautiful woman radiating Love and Light and good energy. She is cozied up to two fellows I’ve not seen in ages, and all three of them were in the last show I directed. And, they happen to be in a building which houses a theatre I built, in which Ann played Nellie Forbush in my production of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s “South Pacific” which I did as a salute to my dear aunt, who had seen Mary Martin play Nellie. Ann was a stranger to me when she auditioned for the role but has since become a dear friend. She is a good memory, someone and something I enjoy remembering – even if the place where we met – that building where she stood posing with friends after seeing a show in a theatre I built and can no longer enter – is a less good memory.

One has to pick and choose and arrange and remind one’s self that “memory” is not a recording of an actual event, really, but, rather, a memory of a memory, colored and shaped and interpreted and – in fact – curated according to one’s own slant and taste from the storage space in the attic of one’s own mind.

As a child, raised in the D.C. suburbs in days when school budgets allowed for day-trips, I was regularly taken to the Smithsonian Museums ((CLICK HERE FOR INFO ABOUT THE SMITHSONIAN COMPLEX – really cool. Of course, if the looming government shutdown occurs tomorrow – all of it will be closed.)).

It was a different time, of course, and while I am sure this would never be the case today, we children were allowed to wander on our own through the museums. I can clearly remember the day after one of those trips being angrily instructed to write impressions about the things we had seen, what had most captured our attention the day before. This assignment was the result of those in charge having been alerted by a parent chaperone that some of us had not so much toured the museum, but, rather, had hung out in gift shop and cafeteria until sneaking outside to do – I don’t know what – it was before i was cool enough to sneak off for smoking and drugging.

Still, for me, the assignment presented a problem.

On these trips, my wandering was done mostly alone, about which I was ashamed. And because I did not want the other kids – all of whom, I was convinced, were happily paired and grouped with the sort of “come with me” friends I never seemed to have – to bear witness to my solitude, I tried to stay hidden. So, I hadn’t really seen all that much. But, me being me, I had picked up every brochure and piece of paper literature available.

So, I wrote about how the Smithsonian was the “nation’s attic” and how it reminded me of all of the un-used rooms in my aunt’s house in Libertytown, filled with relics and artifacts of my family’s history and past, and how I wished I could go through all the things at the Smithsonian that were NOT on display, and play in those rooms, like I spent my weekends in the rooms of my aunt’s home, making up my own story about the historical finds there, my own – wasn’t I clever – SMITH-son-ian.

I wish I could find that paper. I know the teacher made me read it out loud – which, no doubt, made it even MORE unlikely I would have anyone with whom to walk around on the next class trip we took – my words and my interpretation and spin and excuse for my solitude, then – as they do now sometimes – made me pariah. Oh well.

theatre destroyedThe Smithsonian now has something in excess of 130 million pieces and artifacts, and 250 plus curators to choose amongst and arrange them all. I don’t know how many memories a human mind holds or what triggers one of those recalled moments to the front; but I do know that when I got Ann’s picture, and spending the weekend on the couch, in recline and a sort of decline as well, that I was taken back for some reason to those Smith-son-ian visits, and my hiding, and struck by the parallels here, now, my writing in the batcave, my inability to go certain places, my unwillingness to visit some others, and how, goddammit, I am still wandering mostly alone, picking up brochures, wishing I could get into all the hidden rooms where people have left their pasts that I might figure out the stories … but what I’m seeing right now – though I can’t really see it – hard to explain – but, theatres in decay, rotting, molded, destroyed by neglect and absence of light and …

… my story? I need to curate a happier ending which has somehow been lost in the millions of artifacts left behind along the way of here, where I am going.

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