Those days in studio 201 were different days; those days should not have been chronicled, but they were. Somehow, hastily scribbled notes on odd pieces of paper stand as proof. Crumpled pages, some blue, some yellowed now, odd shaped, ripped out of spiral notebooks of various sizes are evidence that those days did actually exist. Poem fragments scribbled under the influence of crisis, almost unreadable, jotted across an outdated photo calendar, cannot now be wished away.
Unfinished attempts at verse, thoughts of the moment lay in folded, messy scraps. Fragments of memory scratched across dates, days, phases of the moon, margins next to highly retouched calendar photos, by digital manipulation rendered meaningless, bland. Throughout those years, coffee or other things spilled on some of the papers. Sometimes it was moisture from rain, leaky things in the room, or tears.
Time came when some of these notes were touched with flakes of old, white paint and bits of stucco on them; Little pieces of glass; Residue of agony, lives damaged, violent outbursts caused by disease in those least likely to wish hurt on anyone or anything.
How I treasure those little notes, those little marks and stains that look so unsightly. The memories of what happened, though I couldn\'t tell you when or why, are so strong, so deep in my soul.
Now, I am cleaning. I am restoring. The pain is healing through the process. The time of the branch to blossom from that vine that was pruned, had to be cut back, so it could burst forth in greater glory than if it had led a gentle life. Today, I take those notes, oh, so many of them, from so many years, months, days and especially nights. I take them and put them in white velvet boxes, in oxblood red-gold leather containers. I rewrite them on clear, white paper, with new black cartridges of ink.
Now they are there for all to see. The coffee stains and torn pieces of paper remain in my heart, a memory that can\'t be discarded. When I reread and hold those old pieces of paper, my heart tugs in every direction. I relive those days, those days of studio 201, the one whose windows I never closed, was not even sure if they would close. The curtain always hung in its polyester aqua ness. It always was smooth and pleasant. It did not mind the neglect. The little plants always perched on those old, worn out sills. I doubt I ever dusted or did much but put a bit of water on them here and there, if it didn\'t rain for a while, that is.
I began writing these notes in 1993. Looking back, I had no idea there were so many notes, dreams and even poems that I jotted down. My handwriting was uneven, different slants or straight up, sometimes illegible. I never had a constant way of writing, still don\'t. That\'s why I type. When the old typewriter in studio 201 broke, I panicked. It was and still is very hard for me to write by hand.
How do I know when I wrote some of those notes? At some point, it became important for me to jot down the day, the date and the time of day or night when I began to write something down.
Today, looking over them, I can see a particular poem was begun say, on a Tuesday, and that it was 3:20pm. I would know, from what I wrote, that the weather was cool, or hot and sometimes what I was wearing. Most of the things I wore, I don\'t remember today.
Today I insert the exact time, date and time from a software program. The hand has little to do with it. Nor does the mind. I trust that the computer knows the time. I trust that if and when I look back at my new journals, there will be no doubt as to when they were written, begun and ended. Today I put events in charts, the kind you can automatically sort. That way, eventually, it becomes clear what was happening, along with other important dates.
When did my grandson remark about the gold dome on the Jewish Temple resembling a yarmulke? When did we go to the book fair? Where was I working at the time? When did my son go to stay in Lake Worth? When did my other son come over with daffodils for Mother\'s Day? When did my eldest grandson tell the people on the bus he wanted to go to the University of Miami? What did my daughter cook for Thanksgiving, and in what year? If I hadn\'t written these things down, they would be lost in the haze of time.
Those were very troubled years. There was a constant tension, a constant edge to everything; Glorious moments along with depths of depression and fear. There was a lot of abuse and abusiveness. There was a lot of unfairness against the helpless, those who had no defense. It was a time that had to be. I doubt if I could survive those days again. I am old now and have little strength left. Where did I get the strength in those days to go on?
Because I have been brought to a place far from abuse and violation, I have to believe that something much bigger than I, we, or anything that the world serves up, is taking me on a journey that is unbelievably magnificent, the more so because of those dark valleys that now are the most precious treasure I own. The people in my life in those days, the most precious souls I had the privilege to know, and to be part of their lives, are what gives me strength to go on today.
Most of the journals and notes I wrote down in those years were done by hand. Now, 14 years later, I remember some things from that time so clearly. For one thing, much of what was in studio 201 did not change. That yellow-striped woolen daybed from a hospital thrift shop, the lamp, a Christmas gift of years ago, lasted for many years. When you touched the shade, it turned on and dimmed on three different levels. That lamp may have been the only thing that was hassle-free during those years. When the bulb finally gave up the ghost, it was time to go, time to leave studio 201.
I have nothing left of that time, nothing, that is, except those yellowed, coffee stained notes. Today, they are being lovingly put in clean, attractive boxes, on clean sheets of paper. They are being shared, or soon will be, with those who also have, or have had, those times, the ones that seemed so fleeting and so unimportant in a way, so difficult and so endlessly hopeless.
They now are the most precious times of my life. The people, who were part of this fleeting number of years, are and were, the most troubled, most unforgettable and most dear. They and that place were at the center. I am now in the periphery. Looking back, I am glad to have been in that center and survived to tell the tale.