Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dear Dear,

On the morning of Tuesday, October 9th I left the mill. I returned in the evening of Sunday, October 28th. During that time I spent at least 96 hours in transit and probably 468 hours in transition. I went to Zagreb, Krakow, and Dartington, following friends, stories, art, and future art. I traveled alone, but I found companions along the way. My trajectory was geographically and financially nonsensical. My bags were over packed and my body overworked. It was a great trip. Miraculous, even.

In early August, during the Goat Island Summer School, Lin announced that Goat Island would premiere their final piece The Lastmaker in Zagreb, Croatia. At the end of the day I approached Lin and said, "Lin, I will see you in Zagreb." A couple months passed, and then I saw her in Zagreb. At the hostel, I shared a room with a Swiss man whose name means farmer. As I introduced myself, I told him about performance art and Goat Island. Farmer seemed genuinely interested, if not excited, so I went on. I showed him a publication by lone twin and read passages with him. Then I told him about tap dance and tap history, I even showed him a picture of Harold "Stumpy" Cromer. He asked how these forms fit together. I told him, "I'm not sure. But I feel the same uncontrollable exuberance when I watch a good tap dance as when I watch a great performance piece. During either, I find myself shifting in my seat and responding audibly in agreement." Farmer attempted to attend the Goat Island piece, but the show was more than sold out both nights. I, on the other hand, enjoyed both nights greatly. I even stayed to help pack their bags after the second night.

Sarah met me at the Krakow train station on the night of Saturday, October 13th. She welcomed me into her "Polish for Foreigners" dorm room with French fondue and Polish vodka. During that week we ate Polish pierogis, Hugarian lecco, and American peanut butter cookies. We descended to the bottom of an ancient ocean, mounted a mound monument, and laughed a lot. On Saturday, October 20th, I found a contemporary ocean in Krakow. As I entered Krakow's center square, the ocean sounds over took me. I stopped, listened, and observed. I noticed that I wasn't the only person quiet and still. At one moment I saw several people around me break from stillness and begin to sway like seaweed. Then other people approached the seaweed dancers, they exchanged their names, and the seaweed dancers pressed their hands against the other's shoulders, hands, legs and feet, releasing/giving energy to the other. They looked into each other's eyes, and the seaweed dancers left, leaving the newly energized others in their place. I watched this and caught on. Soon I became a seaweed dancer. Another approached me introducing herself and asking for my energetic touch. She said something to me in Polish and I said, "I don't understand." Later, after she gave energy to another and left the ocean, she found me and said, "Thanks for swimming with me."

I went to Dartington because of its history and because of the stories I've heard from several mentors. In a couple of years, the college will move off its historic estate, and this felt, to me, like the end of an era. I wanted to touch the place that touched so many artists who've touched me. I did. I also went to Plymouth and touched the steps that Sir Francis "Drakey-Drake" used to board the Mayflower, landing 66 days later at Plymouth Rock. Outstanding. A delayed bus gave me a 24-hour vacation in the London Stansted Airport. At hour 18, a scene among a drunk German, a police officer, and a stranded passenger acting as translator, created an ice breaker among the on lookers. Mario, a Croatian stone mason, began the conversation. After we introduced ourselves, I told him I was recently in Zagreb, where I saw a Chicago performance group perform. As I further explained Goat Island, my excitement became his excitement. "These things you tell me, they are incredible!" Mario exclaimed as he placed The Lastmaker's program into his luggage. When I finally left to check-in, we agreed that the two hours we spent talking were incredible. Miraculous, even.

Upon returning to the mill, Barbara asked, "How does it feel to be back?" I admitted, "It was good to be away." We decided that it's not working. I will travel for the month of December, checking off a majority of the places on my list dated Sunday, August 26th. At the beginning of January, I will return to Chicago to reconnect with friends, stories, art and future art.

I feel really good about this decision and I feel good about the time I spent at the mill.

I hope you're doing well and I hope to see you soon.


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