I woke with this painting by Egon Schiele in my mind’s eye, and as the morning has progressed I keep flashing on it. I’m not sure why, except that in this image lurks the conscious vulnerability that I need in order to move forward in every area of my life. This woman is subject. She is object. She is cagy. She is direct. She is erotic. She is uninviting. She is masculine. She is feminine. She is strong. She is susceptible. She is ugly. She is beautiful. She is tired. And she is engaged. January 2016 is turning out to be a bracingly interstitial month, one that calls for patron saints who aren’t pure so much as they are powerful. This violet-and-crimson-tipped sour puss just about fits the bill.
Last night, as the snow fell and the city grew powerfully quiet, I sat by the window and thought about my friend and former next-door neighbor Grant Huang, who died unexpectedly last week on his partner Tamara’s (and my) birthday. Years ago, in a similar blizzard, the two of them saved me from my sadness at this very window with their characteristic, un-showy kindness. Now it weighs on me that no one could save Grant the same way. Sadness always lives side by side with joy but winter in particular seems to render us all orphans in the storm. Especially for those of us who felt unseen and fundamentally unrescued as small people, that cold darkness triggers a bottomless belief that we’ll never be found again. I wish fervently that I could create a tesseract in which Grant could be kept forever in the bright cheer of his kitchen that night he rescued me; I wish fervently that time was not so unbearably linear.
Oh, how tenderly we must find each other, watch each other, hold each other–like a tiny abandoned kitten we might discover on the street and automatically adore. Like my Grace. It is so important that we keep each other warm.