Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blue Nights and Memories

Just finished reading Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Clawed through it, beginning to end, in like three days. Which is record time considering that every word in the book is meticulously fussed over and concerns dying, death, or scenes involving a child you are fully aware is on a fast track to dying and death. It was harrowing. It was riveting. 

I like the idea of the Blue Night. I'm watching one unfurl through the window. 

It's that distended hour between daylight and night that lingers -- but only in summer during those few weeks before and after the solstice, when the sun rises highest in the sky. 

Now, in other words. 

I like the idea of the Blue Nights as a reprieve, where time hangs in the balance and memories fold themselves into the present.

Here's what Joan Dideon had to say:

"If only I could keep people fully present, keep them with me, by preserving their mementos, their 'things,' their totems. The detritus of this misplaced belief now fills the drawers and closets of my apartment in New York.

In theory these mementos serve to bring back the moment. In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here."

I've been going through a few of Grammy's things which found their way to me. Her home is cleared of all her treasures and freshly repainted; there's a for-sale sign swinging on the lawn. I have Grammy's silver teapot and a quilt and some knick knacks. She saved every letter I ever sent her and my mom brought them all back to me in a plastic tub. 

I will have trouble letting them go, these relics now in my care. But I think I'm with Joan. 

It's not about the rubble left behind. I'm not Hercule Piorot, I can't recreate the scene by clutching a scrap of velvet and a penny nail. I need to start big, to start with the entirety of it all. The meaning of family and love that is pure and achingly unconditional. 

Here's what I've discovered over the past few weeks: 

In the midst of the Blue Night, the sky is weird and otherworldly. It wraps around itself and shimmers, like an infinite reflection in a mirror. It's haunting and immortal and fleeting. I've begun to believe the light is an aura, some kind of quiescent force.

And I feel like if you remember to notice, you can capture that elusive moment: the one which will embrace you long after the person you loved is dead. 
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