Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yaye, the Boxing Queen


In Tallu's previous post she asked if I remembered the story that went along with a keepsake she found in her mother's house. Truth is, I have no memory of it at all. As she recounted the tale to me, it was as though she was talking about the actions of strangers. This happens to me with some frequency. I have lost so much of my past.

I've moved from place to place my entire life. When I was a child, in the hands of my mother and her husband, I managed to attend seven different elementary schools in Ventura and Los Angeles counties from 1973 to 1977. As you might imagine, this resulted in some big ole gaping holes in my education and social life. My recurring childhood fantasy was to be reunited with friends I had to leave behind. This has almost never happened.

Upon graduating from school, I left Los Angeles and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where both my sisters were living at the time. I stuck it out for just under a year, returning to L.A. Five years later, a professional opportunity moved me to New York City. Although I technically spent one year living in an apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey, my life stayed in New York for six years. With a live-in boyfriend in tow, I then moved to Portland, Maine, spending four years there, before moving down here to Connecticut after meeting the man who is now my husband. With the exception of New Jersey, in each state I made several local moves from apartment to apartment.

So, I've been around.

Over the years, I've developed this survival technique of boxing up the past I'm leaving in order to focus on my latest destination. I usually have to sit on the boxes to force them to close - and often need to hammer in several long, spiky nails to keep them shut tight. Yet I have become so skilled in this practice that I can hardly pry open my memories to recall the streets and towns I used to know; and even the names and faces of people I once befriended become less and less distinct all the time.

Thankfully, I kept journals for many of those years, so I do have a record to help jog my memory and keep certain stretches of time clear. (Of course, I mostly keep those journals boxed up, as well.) But during the hardest, most painful times, I was unable to keep a journal, and I find that those periods are the fuzziest blurs. Obviously, I'm pretty good at protecting myself from pain.

This brings me to the image above. This was the last lobby poster I created for my previous employer, the Warner Theatre. I quit the theater in January of '05 after a turbulent and exhausting three-year tenure, though I continued doing contract work for them through May of last year. Now here we are a full year later.

And although I still feel burnt out from my experience there, I think I'm finally ready to pull out some of this past and reclaim it. I'm tired of living with all these bulging boxes and the worry that one of them will just burst open when I least expect it, like the Spanish Inquisition.

So, here we are, one wee box partially pried open. Let's see how it goes.

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