Collections I had as a child: Collections of giant plastic bugs, collections of real bugs that died, some I tried to keep alive. Collection of dolls (mostly fairy or elf) and “doughie”, an anatomically correct male doll my dad sewed for me and we sometimes made Polaroid photo shoots or 8mm films of. Collection of stickers in books re arranged by color, size, type (scratch and sniff, lisa frank) collection of stuffed animals I didnt care for but didn’t say so, cause they never did anything wrong they were just boring. Collection of books I liked or were bought for me and I reluctantly read, collections of art supplies, clay, markers that ran out (a-lot), collection of magic tricks, whoopee cushions, fake puke and jokes I couldn’t use properly cause it was always adults around. Collections of rubber animal noses, collection of dress up clothes and props, collections of rocks.
Do you want to see my collections? I was always so excited when they said yes and we could look together. I feel the same as an adult, but its rare that people have time to view our adult collections, unless your collection is your home. In my teens, my record collection was four boxes long, full of NW grunge, punk and soul and irresistible when I needed money. Later on, it dwindled down to one sad and lonely box. Not even my favorites, just ones I couldn’t sell. Now its back to four.
Collections I have as an adult: Collections of photos, collections of films I have made in various mediums. Collections of records, some cds and lots of mixed tapes, collections of found 16mm films I am not rich or settled enough to collect but sometimes try. Collections of playing cards and tarot, collections of drawings and art, collections of books I love but often get rid of because I move alot. Collections of toys and knick knacks (yes, clowns) often stored away cause they are creepy to others, collections of molly. Collections of computer cords for hard drives, collections of writing on paper, collections of rocks. What would you grab in a fire?
People with families would say each other, as the glowing aspects of vibrant life forms are like riches you can’t ignore, and I am surely jealous of. It was 1980, my dad and I were living in an apartment in NW Portland. I was four years old. My parents were separated. A fire blew up in the middle of the night. He woke me up and said, “grab what is important”. I had to think about it for an agonizing second. I grabbed doughie, the doll handmade by my father. I remember feeling safe cause we were walking to his brother’s house and I made a good choice. Nothing else I needed then.
Now, there are seemingly endless things I need on a daily basis, spaces to live and jobs and food and people. But none of it matters, cause if it was a fire, or flood, or earthquake, you grab what is alive and that would be my dog. Even though the films and memories and media are important, could I exist without them? Yeah, I’d make more, they might even be better out of spite alone. Everything is expendable, we realize very quickly when left alone suddenly or after someone dies you loved. Nothing matters but life itself, preserving it, keeping those around you alive, the ones with heartbeats.
Ive never lost this thought in the twenty years since 1995 when everything fell apart. The year when I lost my best friend and my lover in a month. Property was nothing to me, I became homeless, and for a time, could not return to the place called home, as it was too painful. Better to wander. And wander I have. Although I’m not homeless now, I’ve never lived in any house or apartment for longer than two years since. I look around at my collections, wonder if I’m good enough to survive, wonder how much truth should be revealed and why the loss of love never stops hurting.