Dorothea Tanning’s painting, Birthday has been a staunch favorite of mine for ages. Its cryptic claustrophobia and open-jawed imagery has not only captivated me for so long, but it always has a familiarity in me, to a feeling in me (others with such reverb for me would be Kahlo’s The Suicide of Dorothy Hale and Andrew Wyeth’s Wind from the Sea to name a few). This painting has left my mind in recent years but returned quickly today.
There may be only a tiny few side effects of anything that may result in a positive, but sometimes it happens. After missing many doses of something my body has unfortunately begun to deem necessary to function, my body feels it is no longer connected to me. My heart feels it is going to sprout wings and fire through my chest, my eyes ache, and hear a strange internal “boom” in my ears. Can something so small I slug with the nearest available liquid be so powerful?
Today, in this odd little stupor, I “saw” this woman in the Tanning painting. I “saw” the little bat-like creature in the painting. Both came to me in odd flashes when I shut my eyes in the hopes of resting them to stop the ache in them (they feel like pimples being forcibly popped by anxious pubescent, pre-prom fingertips). It took all day for me to realize the origins of these images and then I remembered this painting and it became clear.
Once someone said something to me about medication and about how medication causing one to slip away. I have not felt this entirely until today. But now I feel I am slipping, that everything around me is simply that — around me. I have had the most wonderful last few months of feeling so good, finding the things I thought may have been obsolete in someone.
Why would this have to happen now to me?
Last week, a small brown bat made its way into my bedroom. My bedroom has become what a kitchen is for many people … a place for repairing the day’s soul, replacing the tatters of one’s soul flag with some kind of nourishment. My “Bedpost” series of artwork will be exhibited in September in the library where I work no less. These are works I have created in my bed, among my bedposts. These are works that also somehow revolve around my bed — relationships, depression, insomnia, and joyous rejuvenations — all taking place in my bed among my bedposts. It is the bed of my childhood, the bed of so many jokes about its small frame and dated appearance. A lot, it seems, like my mind sometimes. All of our minds. But I always talk about the things of my mind I shouldn’t. Even now, why do I write all of this? What am I hoping to really accomplish? No as much isolation for one I think.
This bat terrorified me and now his little ghost terrifies me. Am I just hearing him? Has he returned? Why does he scare me more than the real ghosts who have come to me? I guess because this bat is not my family?
This painting is everything to me right now. It has come to me and will help me complete my final pieces for my exhibit that has been at a standstill since about March.
I just hope I stay together and that the man of obsolete characteristics stays with me like the doors in all of my dreams, all leading me away from frightful birthdays.