We had cool temperatures this week out on the coast, but mostly sunny days. Winds picked up this week, keeping the air a little chilly and muffling the regular sounds that permeate the area. I’ve loved wind about as long as I can remember, but I fell in love under different circumstances. In the South, you can go long stretches without so much as a breeze. When winds return, they are often announcing that there’s a change in the air, something new is on its way. I felt like the wind was a sort of messenger in a language I couldn’t translate, but could feel. Here, I feel more like I’m close to the source of the wind, the place where the wind begins its journey across the continent. This is a different version.
I’ve been meeting a lot of new people since moving, which I guess is expected when someone moves across the country to work at a retreat center. Everyone I come into contact with, essentially, is someone new. A three-day meeting of camp directors in the conference and board members started off the week, and I went through a marathon of budget and policy talks along with trying to get to know all these camping peers during our spare time. It’s always great to meet people who do what you do, especially if you’re in a line of work that is isolated by nature. You get to talk about all the things you worry about, joke about all the things no one else would get. We want to be with people who get us, who can see what’s inside there, and say, “Yeah, that makes some kind of sense.”
While getting reacclimated to the world of camp, I’ve also tried to not let go of the identity that I was beginning to develop as an artist. I’m happy that I’ve kept the blog up, but I’ve sagged a bit with other writing. I’ve scratched rough drafts of poems, but haven’t taken them further. I haven’t sent poems out for publication with the regularity I was. This spring, I will have 3 poems published, but there is so much more I want to do. This is a way to open a very unique window of myself. This is another thing I want to be, a part of me I want to grow.
I’ve really developed a fascination with Annie Clark, a musical artist who goes by St. Vincent. She dropped my favorite album of last year, this strange hybrid of synthesized rock that sounds very retro and brand new at the same time. On first listen, it’s a little weird, maybe even jarring. But, the more I listen to her, the more I love her music. Her videos are an extension of her music–most of them are pretty strange. She is playing something not exactly her in the videos, she’s almost always staring off to something distant, she moves robotically. In her video for Digital Witness, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I’m very confident some of my readers will just find this downright weird and annoying. It’s odd, but I feel so compelled by the song and the video. I don’t even know for sure exactly what either one are getting at, but I have strong feelings that I’m feeling whatever she was feeling when she put it all together. What’s maybe the strangest thing, though, is that when you see her interviewed, she doesn’t look like her video version, and she sounds like one of the most down to Earth people you could have a conversation with in the music world. In this song and video, she’s addressing how we are obsessed with our digital worlds. This is a message we’ve surely heard plenty, but she’s able to say something about it in a very unique way. Not everyone likes what she’s putting out there, but she’s good at making it. That persona is compelling.
She’s using her music and even her body to make something not exactly her that speaks for her. Her hair doesn’t usually look like that. She doesn’t stare off into space most of the time. But, we don’t always want to make things that are exactly who we are. We make things to speak something we can’t say in a normal way.
I’ve started an instagram account recently, because I made a pledge to share pictures of my adventures with my friends and family. I’ve thought a lot about what to post and how to name it. I’ve become one of those people who like to post interesting meals and interesting restaurants. But then, I also want my account to be more than just a photo album of what I did today. I’m interested in the pictures telling a story, speaking something beyond the object in the photograph. I know some people who do this well. I want to use these life experiences I capture on camera to tell some bigger story, to tell people something I don’t know how to say in words alone. I like this idea of my life partially being some sort of creative project.
This was the last full week I’d be in Oregon before going back to the South for a week to see Allyson and other family and friends. This will be the first time back in the region where I’ve lived my whole life until about 3 months ago. I wonder what it will feel like. I’m finding the Northwest to be more and more comfortable, so what will that mean when I go back to Kentucky and Tennessee? Homes are these strange bodies that we inhabit. We shed them sometimes, but then we can often return to them and wear them again. What will the old skin feel like after new skin?
Many of my beach walks were not exactly pleasant this week. The wind was uninhibited when after stepping past the treeline onto the sand. At sunsets, I could see ripples in the sand, made not by water, but wind. The surface was smoothed over and rounded, shaping to driftwood. The wind pushed on my chest and made me squint my eyes when facing it head-on. I thought to go in, but decided to stay longer. In moments, I could hear the sand being blown by the wind–it sounded like a strange wind-chime. This is yet another personality of this place, another voice it speaks in.
This next week, I’ll make the long flight across the country and see Allyson again after nearly a month apart. I’ll reunite with some of the people I left earlier this year. I’m sure it will feel familiar and strange all at once. Being back in the homes again that I’ve only seen through skype windows these past few months. Feeling the muggy air, hearing the loudness of spring frogs, and the lighter green of oak and hickory leaves. What will I say about this? What is the picture of myself I will show to it? What song can I come up with to release this unexplainable thing stored up in me?