A short pile of small ceramic cups fell on my counter, shattering in irreconcilable little pieces.
One of them, the tallest, was already a patched-up ceramic cup glued together. I had relished in my little experiment in kintsugi, the Japanese art of rendering objects even more precious by mending them with golden seams. This one had thin lips, a discreet tactile pleasure I have always enjoyed, which is why I held onto the single unit for so long. The seams became coffee stained, my morning ritual sealing a prior accident in the past.
There was a twin set of bi-colored chunkier ones made by my friend Nana. Off-white on the outside, and swirled shades of cerulean and gray inside. I will miss these best of all, because I have no clue when I’ll be able to make it home and screech a high pitched hello, before Nana and I throw our arms around each other. The thought of a ribcage to ribcage hug with a childhood friend rings through my chest and wafts off into an expedited oblivion.
I can’t tell if I have become klutzier or if it is the paltriness of noteworthy events that has made these banal domestic mishaps more noticeable, but the fact is my kitchen has taken a hit.
I thought my counter was sturdy, its stone surface unassailable. Now, staring at the constellation of nicks, chalky winks, makes me think that solidity is an overpromise, and the breakable objects remind me that collisions leave all parties marked by the surface encounter. My cooking prep area is now bound to hold onto tiny particles of food, as I figure out how to become handy.
Flower vases, baking tray lids, wine glasses.
Slipped and shattered.
Perhaps mourned, none replaced.
Absence too is an event.
Some things have to be scarred before we can feed off their resilience.
In case of flesh wound, blood will clot. Fibrin (a thread-like protein) forms network. It dries up. Clot becomes scab. Scab protects. Healing begins. Dear earth, may it be so. May we let it happen. Dear you… Drink water. Mix up your life. Eat your veggies. Hug a tree. Call one another. Near and far. Someone new. Skype and zoom. Travel. Across time zones. Ask “What’s up?”… Stay home.
I don’t remember much from high school biology. What I can recall is that a bone’s capillary network is arranged in a series of concentric circles. This means that at the microscopic level, our insides resemble the rings of a tree trunk. This shared architecture has been running my mind. The trees on my block are just beginning to flower; the budding branches are tender and bright. As for myself, after weeks of eating chips and festering in my apartment, I am growing sour and more bloated by the day. How dare you! I think, glumly staring at the view from my window. Nobody is flourishing right now, but spring is a reminder some things are certain. The sun rises, flowers bloom. With each passing year a tree gains a new ring around its trunk and grows stronger, all the more able to weather what comes next.
In 2005, filmmaker Chantal Akerman spent a month in Tel Aviv where she had planned to make a film on life in Israel/ Palestine during a period of intense violence. Daunted by the killings she knew were occurring almost every day, she decided to shoot from the safety of her apartment, shooting her entire film from inside toward the outside, through a single window. Akerman screened “Là-Bas/ Down There”, her remarkable, austere film on this time in her life, at the 2006 Jerusalem Film Festival where I was presenting my film “States of UnBelonging”. For me, it was a dream come true of a sort, meeting Akerman and having a chance to talk to her about her work. Now 14 years later, I think about our own DAUNTING NOW, the witnessing we do from our Corona-framed solitude through our windows, what we see and what we don’t. Unless we are sick ourselves or are first responders, we too, like Akerman, sink into the horrors of our own imagination. Across the years and across our community of filmmakers, there is a RETE, a network, that connects me to her, and all of us to the impulse she had to observe from her hermetically sealed environment, always fearing the puncture.
As a filmmaker, I feel the connection between my purchase of a camera at B and H Photo and Video in NYC and the people who work in the warehouse to get that package to me so quickly. The time between their boxing the camera and my front door is so incredibly short these days. I am painfully aware of the RETE of commerce in the world. So this video speaks to that phenomenon. Since the launch of this video, the workers won! They are now able to unionize.
B&H Warehouse Workers Protest on October 11th, 2015 with the support of Laundry Workers Center United, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Rabbi Ellen Lippmann. Video by Lynne Sachs.
According to Democracy Now, “more than 100 warehouse workers have launched a campaign Sunday to unionize B&H Photo Video, the largest non-chain photo store in the United States. The workers are alleging widespread racial discrimination, wage theft and unsafe working conditions inside B&H’s two Brooklyn warehouses. In one case, workers say they were locked inside one of the warehouses during a recent fire in an adjacent building.”
In my hand I hold a leaf from the tree outside my window. Old hand lined now age and experience veins grown larger. Central vein on the leaf stems my palm. Outside under the tree on the playground the shrieks of children poke sounds of traffic near and far. Rumble is the distance away of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Sun is the fenders bending the sound of the city so many sounds at once un-focusing my eyes. Traffic is snarled. I am thirsty. I shut my window thick and everything goes but the light the light pounds away a second at a time, relentless. Everything is connected is a close place is passing is a light through a tree against night and sky. Make a wish a sign a cross across a great distance. That’s the sun that’s the road I take that takes me south in sun back to her.