Monday, November 15, 2010

Acting like a Dog

Warning: this post is going to be a typical Lisa narrative which seems to be disconnected until the end. Stay with me, as the loose ends really do tie together.

Last month in North Carolina, I was charmed by the work of Margaret Couch Cogswell, a multi-media artist whose gentle whimsical work touched my heart when it was most fragile. I bought a piece entitled “Sometimes a Heart Needs Holding”, as my wounded one needed holding badly and I liked the idea of healing myself.

One piece in particular made me laugh, a piece in which Cogswell created her dog’s view of the Penland School where the artist has been completing a residency. Tessy, Margaret’s dog, saw the school as “Pee-land”, and the work included a map of Tessy’s pee spots, places where the hard-working Tessy announced she had been and by peeing on top was announcing her status as top dog.

Fast forward 7 weeks. My heart is long-healed, I am feeling stronger, less vulnerable, a few steps clearer about my needs and wants vis a vis love, dating again, and feeling great about being solo. And then this weekend happened, a time of long walks, planned adventures, serendipitous encounters throughout San Francisco. I found myself reacting to the city much like Tessy, as I visited an artist’s studio with the closest of friends, sat at a bar introduced to me by one man in my past, listened to a broadcast of a performance I had attended with another, admired produce at the farmer’s market as I remembered meals I had enjoyed cooking with yet another, shared a dinner with a new acquaintance at a new venue which will now be permanently linked in my mind to this man. Like Tessy, I was responding to each of these places as if it was scented and marked by a relationship, no matter how long or brief. San Francisco has become my pee-land, rich with experiences and associations. Unlike Tessy, I don’t feel the need to be top dog, but I suppose my version of re-marking these places is my urge to reach out to the men in my past when I re-visit these places, not to restart something which is over but to acknowledge the sweetness now past. Some respond, some don’t. Their loss, in my opinion.

Interestingly, the “Heart” piece I had purchased from Cogswell also arrived this weekend, and I was interested to see that while it still spoke to me, I was no longer that woman with the heart that needed holding that I had been in North Carolina. The heart heals, it re-opens, it discovers new people and places and sniffs them out, marking them and me permanently, like Tessy.

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