Thursday, February 21, 2013

on a northbound train

On Monday morning, the boyfriend and i took a train to Delaware to see our friend. We spent a few days in the hospital with him, and with his parents, other friends, doctors, nurses, and random visitors.

On Wednesday, i took the rental car down to Maryland to have dinner with my dad and brother. Dad's birthday was Tuesday (49; a perfect square), and on Tuesday Adam got a new leg. He will soon begin training with a handbike in preparation for the Boston marathon in April. I brought him the Christmas presents i'd forgotten in December, and he returned a book i'd loaned (Sandman, Preludes and Nocturnes). We ate Memphis barbecue surrounded by Elvis paraphernalia and black-and-white posters of old jazz and blues musicians. Adam and i split the bill; it was Dad's birthday after all, or nearly. We talked about Adam's new therapist, and some of the things they were working through, and the line between art and entertainment, and why the Ravens are the best football team in the world (because they're named in honor of Edgar Allen Poe, duh), and my dad's younger brother and his life troubles, and the varying deliciousness of different sauces on the table, and where we would eat when Adam came to Boston for the marathon. On the way back to the hotel, i got lost and drove in circles for a while.

I came into the room and learned that my boyfriend's grandfather had just died. We spent a sober evening packing and making arrangements for the morning return trip.

This morning, we drove back to the train station, returned the rental car, took turns watching the luggage while the other person used the bathroom, and then waited for our train. We're headed back to Boston now, and the boyfriend would like you to know that he has kissed me three times so far since getting on the train. We're tired and quiet and glad to be going home, and glad that we have mobile devices that allow us to read and blog and watch The West Wing. And glad that we found seats together, where we can share our chicken sandwiches and sometimes kiss.

It's been a fairly stressful and depressing week, but fortunately i have Sandman and my iPad and Boyfriend kisses and i'm headed home. And so it goes.

I just finished reading "Signal to Noise", another Gaiman comic. This one he wrote with Dave McKean. McKean's artistic style is generally pretty hit-or-miss for me; he does that mixed-media thing where you have oil paintings and antique objects and scraps of newspaper and whatnot all mixed together in layered images. Sometimes they are beautiful and creepy and perfect, and sometimes they feel (to me, anyway) forced and contrived. But "Signal to Noise" is perfect. Anyone who doubts that comics contain "real" art, anyone who likes the idea of graphic novels but is turned off by the cartoony images and superheroes, anyone who doesn't really like to read but likes stories, and particularly anyone facing loss, should read "Signal to Noise". Briefly, it's the story of a man facing his personal apocalypse. And that's the whole thesis of the work, really, is that there is no one apocalypse for everyone. The main character is a filmmaker who is dying of cancer as he works on his last script. He's writing a movie about a small European village in the year 999, facing the coming millennium and certain that the world will end. Throughout the course of the story, the disjointed images and words tell us that everyone has their own apocalypse, that the world is ending all the time for someone or another, that we all have to face our own end some time.

Reading this story, experiencing this art, as i sat in a hospital room and planned a trip to see my own broken family, i had to keep taking breaks. I couldn't digest the whole story in one sitting. I had to give it time to happen to me. I haven't found many things that could overwhelm me so completely, and i found this one at exactly the right time.

I don't really have a point in all of this. I just needed to write some things down. If you're looking for a take-away, however, i can give you this: i should be back to a more normal posting schedule soon. Read "Signal to Noise". Barbecue is delicious. My boyfriend is a good kisser.

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