This weekend after Sunday school, some of the ladies invited me to lunch. I rarely get to attend these extra outings as I am so busy with school and work, but I felt I could go.
One friend had a box of items wrapped in a Hallmark bag. I noticed her neatly folding the bag over box in a ritualistic way.
She saw my intrigue.
Inside the box were letters that have been in her family for years. They were from the civil war.
Immediately upon opening the box I asked her if I could touch them. Carefully I took them out and observed the paper, the handwriting, and the words. I felt myself being swept away from the table at Piccadilly Cafeteria into a vacant space. I desperately wanted to go away quietly with these letters into a place where I could be alone. “How strange.” I thought. After all, I did not even know these people, why would this be so important to me?
I did feel that if I could be alone with the “feelings” images, flashing pictures would come to my mind that would make no sense to anyone else, and they would probably not even make sense to me but it would be a movie that I would have liked to have seen, something that in the space and time of Piccadilly cafeteria I felt deprived of. “I can make copies for you if you like,“ My fellow parishioner had said. But it was these old papers that I wanted to be with. I felt drawn to them.
After arriving home I thought about the experience. This empathic thing is not something that happens in one sense, but seems to involve all of my senses. I absorb the emotions of the people, by touch, vision and smell. I hear the words of the loved ones. In spring, when I was alone in Dick Hathaway’s office, I came across his tie. Without thinking I smelt it. And then held it to my chest. In the same way that perhaps one cherishes the shirt of their deceased lover. Writing about it feels strange. When Jeanine’s personal affects came her shirt was in the box. Come to think of it I did this same thing with her shirt, that I did with Dick’s tie. I also smelt Lucas’ shirt.
I am avoiding the studio. Jennifer is there working on the Torso of Dick and Miguel is there working on the wax of Jeanine. I want to be alone with Dick to watch the images and feel the flood of emotions, Nancy, Ruth, Maida, Charlotte, Victor, Susan. To hear the words of each individual play in my head.
To talk to Charlotte while I work, if I feel so inclined.
The emotion in the clay and this process is a total sensory thing.