word of the day: muse

by erika

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I received a package from my best friend from 7th grade. She and I have always been wildly different, from her 80s asymmetrical thick blond hair and math skills, to my tight brown ballet bun and poetic leanings. From the size and shape of the box, I knew what was in there and, immediately, I started to cry. Al is not a visual artist, but she has one thing, one glorious thing, that she made in middle school who quickly became our mascot–Mr. Piggy. I mentioned Mr. Piggy here in a post from November of 2013 when Al sent me a small replica. A Mr. Piggy replica is great, but it’s like having an Eiffel Tower key chain instead of standing under the real thing. I slowly opened the box and found, lovingly swathed in a white hand towel, the one-eared majestic swine. He is all snout, three legs, and pure, pink, magic. I don’t think of Al being very sentimental, don’t imagine her in all her treks around the world setting up little altars amassed with pieces from her past. I doubt she still has the giant Swatch watch that was on her bedroom wall, or her old orange leather jacket, or the jewelry box I remember from her desk. But she has kept Mr. Piggy as a talisman and she has hauled him back and forth across states, both geographic and emotional. I don’t know what his home turf looked like in her place, since, sadly, I haven’t yet been to Portland to visit. I imagine it simple but grand, the lone handmade piece of art next to the spot where she leaves her keys, causing a casual, everyday brush up against his wobbly asymmetry (thanks to the three legs–all at the front of his body, no less). But maybe that altar was less obvious, a closet box or drawer where she saw him only during spring cleaning or at Christmas when she went to dig out the ornaments.

Wherever he was, he stayed primary to our friendship–the spirit guide to our history and present tense–the thing we have kept in common. And now here he was, mine for a time. I pressed his cold, flat side against my cheek. It felt like an Oregon river stone. I touched the place where his left ear had been and tried to imagine the moment of the accident and the horror she felt in dropping him. (“I’m precarious,” he snorted sweetly to her as she considered gluing it back on, “I am not meant to be ‘perfect.'” ) Looking closer, I wondered if that ear had fallen off long before, in the kiln, as the glaze seemed to fill the scar as if it had never known that ear at all. I looked, really looked at Mr. Piggy and that made me really, really look at my memories of my dear friend.

word of the day: muse

  1. to become absorbed in thought; especially :to think about something carefully and thoroughly
  2. any goddess presiding over a particular art

As scattershot and squirrel-tailed as my brain has been lately, this moment spent so completely absorbed in a thing was magic. And all the musings about this generous gift, sent wondrously to me at this hard time in my heart, made me miss my friend so dearly. What a thing humans do to connect–they send their pigs and their bunnies and their favorite, softest, t-shirts and scarves. They send them out on loan, their scent and finger prints still all over them, or for forever, knowing that new homes are needed every once in awhile for all of us. Giving something up is hard, but not so hard when you are really giving to. Al, Thank you for giving to me, even for a time, this thing that has always made you/us laugh. Thank you for sharing your a-muse-ment  with me and reminding me how perfect we are broken and wobbly. Happy birthday, eve, Alison, may you receive all that you give. There is no Muse of Ceramic Arts, but perhaps we will name her Choiros, after the Greek for Pig, and as an homage to Mr. Piggy, himself. muse.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e