"Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased", wrote Calvino. I am erasing an image by writing this postcard for you. I was on the train from Turin to Milan when I saw a big truck carrying stacks of red mini Fiat. On the horizon: the Alps. Looking almost diluted to the blue sky. The highway was busy, but my gaze stuck at the truck full of small red Fiats moving and the soft silvery blue Alps in the background. I tried to take my camera but I wasn't fast enough for the speed of my train. The train, the speed, the uncanny sight, breathtaking view, the uncaptured moments.. I'm afraid those are the nature of this trip around Italy that I am doing right now. Speed is inevitable. Anyhow, can we add the unphotographed photo I just described in that notebook of unphotographed photos that we talked about for years and remain a plan? Just as many other things that needs to wait because life happens. And when it does, speed is inevitable.
I just watched a movie: "Goodbye, Christopher Robin". A sad one. I cried almost the whole second part of it. (I would blame the hormones, of course). It was the first movie I watched in Italy. The first thing I do to ground myself after the continuous movement. I need a book, but I left the one I was reading halfway at home. Worst decision I can make. Having a book around can be handy: it can be my hideaway, my escapist move, my personal space, and it can be the time I steal to let the dust settle. In the movie, Christopher Robin is Billy Moon. Billy Moon is his ‘real name’ and Christopher Robin is the name that was given to him. Few weeks earlier, I went to a talk about an exhibition with one of the most beautiful title: 'What Plants Were Called Before They Had a Name'. It is about how colonialism is not only an occupation of land but also of knowledge. Intriguing idea. But in its simplest form, I love the idea of calling things by its real name. Like how Turin is Torino, how Florence is Firenze, and Venice is Venezia. The last one is a trick. Venice has become a brand. There was one time when we tried to call every other Italian cities by its name but slipped and called Venezia by Venice. Like Paris, Venice is a concept for some people. But today I will not write about Venice. My old friend Calvino, whose quote I abused during my stay in his country, knows it better. He once wrote, "Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”
Friendship has an expiration date. That is what I think each time I see her. That is what I will think whenever I see her walking next to me for the next couple of month. She has been reckless with my heart, as I was with hers (and probably yours). Friends are like two stray thoughts momentarily colliding. When the moment is up, thoughts drifted away. You became an idea-- or worse, a term. Taken for granted. People forgot how to be friend, how to be present, the time spent on friendship, the joy, the expectation. Expectation is just as nasty as politics in friendship. If I could ever do it all over again, it will all start with lightness. It will float. It doesn't need to collide. At times, it will float side by side and at times, drifted away-- and that's okay. Lightness, is all we need, I'd say. You might disagree, as we do sometime. Good old times. But I am sorry to say that old times is nowhere to be seen anymore. Did I say I'm sorry for being reckless with your heart just yet?
Images are like a time capsule. Sometimes we can not see the real meaning of it. Instead, we need to wait for the moment when we can really see the real meaning instead of our projections of it. I wonder what I will think in a year from now, looking at the array of images I took in order to remember every place I visited. At the moment, I don't think I am doing it right. I am in a continuous state of flux. Always on the move, always exhausted, always in between, never really let the dust settle in. I try to write down names, keywords, ideas and moments. I keep dried leaves and flowers in my notebooks. I took pictures of places, images, and sights I would like to remember. I know at least a dozen of people who would slap me back to my sanity if I ever say that I am not happy here. I am burden by guilt with every step away from home. To some, this might sound like a dream: work trip all around Italy with all the wines, the foods, the landscapes; train ride with service; arranged meeting with supposedly the most inspiring artists and institutions; 'home' is a room with a view (with private tub) at the nicest neighborhood, or room by a hidden alley in Venice, or an old farm house overlooking a vineyard in Rovereto-- a small Italian countryside I wouldn't even have aspired to visit merely because of my unawareness of its existence. But still, I complain a lot. I fall asleep on some of the meetings. I took too many shots of espresso and vitamins (often at the same time), slowly damaging myself, to hold myself up for the five daytime meetings with fifteen different people. I gulp my wine like there is no tomorrow to stay social because my energy is already drained by before the sun goes down (and another meeting is coming up during dinner). For more than 12 hours a day, I need to always be ready to perform. The rest is oblivion, scattered naps, sleep deprivation, immune booster, and a continuous effort to stay in touch with the loved ones back home whenever the time zone allow. I guess it is part of the contract with the devil (called the 'international contemporary art') that I signed carelessly few years ago. Still, I beat myself up for not being adventurous enough, or excited enough, or happy enough to visit new cities. I beat myself up when I wake up in my own bed, wishing to just stay there for the whole two days before going to another endless train ride. Time and space are something more of a luxury for me right now. Movement turns into a drug I am helplessly addicted to, just like all the wine and espresso. When I am writing this, I am grateful to say that I am healed, at least for now. I let myself stay the whole two days at home, eating as much greens as I could, drinking enough water, listen to what my body needs and provide. For the first time since I arrived, I feel something that resembles happiness and excitement. I will write you again when happiness can be fully confirmed, just like the Spring. For now, would you please tell me it is okay not to be happy once in awhile? Or, better yet, will you be happy for me?