May 7, 2012

goodbye, first love

This past Saturday, I had tickets to see Antigone Unearthed, a new movement-based play directed by Rachel Broderick. I was pretty amped for this, as I love the story of Antigone as told by Sophocles, so I figured a contemporary feminist approach to the action would be one very interesting to me. I looked forward to recording my impressions after the performance, as that is one of the assignments I have for the dance writing workshop I am currently enrolled in.Well, the ticket was booked, I left my house with my notebook and backpack, my combat boots and springtime trench coat. I had felt weird all afternoon, as the weather has been quite miserable and I have unresolved feelings about several life events that have unfolded recently, and on top of that some very weird young dude hit on me in the stairwell of my new building and, in short,  I was afraid. So, feelings of unrest and powerlessness abound as I waited for the express bus. And then I realized I had forgotten my metro-card.

The journey into Manhattan was one of indecision. Something did not feel right about traveling to Williamsburg that evening.  I have not really stepped foot in that neighborhood since I left my apartment in the summer of 2010. I have some bitter sweet memories from my time there, being broke and looking for work; existing within the powerlessness of a failed relationship; trying to scrap at the heels of the New York City modern dance community that felt (at most times) like an epic fail.

So, maybe I am not over those things. Perhaps my not-so-subconscious mixed emotions have kept me out of Brooklyn. But anyway, something in my gut kept telling me to just get off the bus. At 4th Street, several blocks away from the L train, I got off and began wandering the West Village. I have been down the winding streets many times before. The cobblestones; the cherry blossoms. Springtime. Minetta and Cherry Lanes with their quaint brick theaters, unassuming buildings that host the energies of Edna St. Vincent Millay and the ghosts of theater poetics past.

I went into a bookshop. Scoured the sections I always gravitate toward: self help, poetry, and children's literature. I sat on the floor and killed some time. Ah, it is like (vegan) soup for the romantic soul. I had made alternative plans. Tonight would be about the cinema. At a quarter to ten I walked over to the IFC. I had saw the words on the marquee, Goodbye, First Love.

The words hang over my head quite heavy. Un amour de jeunesse. The film is in French, but it has become a small pleasure of mine to watch films with subtitles. It follows the story of a girl, Camille, just shy of sixteen and her childhood sweetheart, Sullivan. 

It is 1999. Sullivan is leaving for Argentina because he is several years older than Camille and wants to explore the world. She is a jealous lover, one that rips at his heart when he does not fully shower her with attention. We have all been there. All of us girls (and maybe everyone ever); that sad puppy longing for the object of your affection. Camille has assumed no identity, as all of her energy is invested in Sullivan. And then, he leaves. Gone. Of course her heart is broken. She must learn to tend her wounds, to lick them like a baby cat. She moves on, grows up. Follows the seasons. Camille becomes an architect. She falls in love with her professor (as most young girls do). Times passes.

Sullivan returns. Of course a subsequent affair ensues. Camille struggles with the rockiness of their relationship, one of childish games but also a deep intimacy. This is, after all, her first love. There is also the safety and maturity of her boyfriend, the professor. Ultimately, Camille must learn what we all learn eventually (hopefully). She must float down the river on her own, the weight of her body supporting herself. Her whole life seems to be lived through the boyfriend she is with at the time. The last scene truly captures her surrendering this mentality, as she wades into the water alone.

The film captures the beauty of the landscape. France, mostly Paris but also the countryside, is filled with fields of lavender, mountains, small streets, bicycles.

The most beautiful part of this film is its location. There is also the simple resonance of one's first love which passes into the recesses of one's memory but still lingers on.

I left the theater feeling affected. There is something about chilled spring nights and French films. Goodbye First Love was not quite a dance but I felt impacted by it just as strongly. Sometimes it is hard to write about the subject you are required to study. I feel that everything could be a dance. Certainly the best dances are those that get to the gut of it, that remind one of one's first love, first heartache, first scraped knees and a thousand other tickling sensations.

One day I will walk onto the platform and step aboard the L. I will smell the flowers outside of Rose Red and Lavender and walk along Metropolitan Avenue, imbibed with the music and french windows of Brooklyn. 



May 4, 2012

it went like this

So, to be completely honest-- I did not expect that turning twenty five would change nearly everything. A month before, back in the fall of 2011, I was meandering. I had a few different freelance jobs, internships spread out across the weeks, little money, several medical issues to deal with, and a lot of stress. And then, quite unexpectedly, I heard that Jenni Jenkins, a former classmate, had passed away.

Jenni Jenkins was a beautiful young woman. I met her in my senior year of college when a very charming  Ruomi Lee Hampel, president of Hunter's Film and Media Society, approached me about doing several multidisciplinary arts and performance events around campus. Jenni had joined us as the organizer of GAMMA, the eco-friendly arts and multimedia group she had founded. Jenni looked like Audrey Tautou, the French film star; so fragile yet profoundly firm. Our short time together produced a wonderful semester of pop-up art galleries, wine sorbet, and a white space where students wrote little thoughts and ditties, anything that came to one's mind.

After graduation, we did not keep in touch. That is the ephemeral nature of acquaintances. With the advent of Facebook, we attain friendships that exist merely in virtual space. Jenni liked butterflies and worked at a butterfly conservancy briefly. She also was involved in the development of a short film, Plastic Bag, which can be seen here: 

I believe the idea came from her. That is what director Ramin Bahrani stated at her memorial. It was loosely inspired by the beautifully written book, The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. She saw the environment as art, something I see as well. Her life included the Venice Film Festival, a tasteful modeling career, and lots of art and butterflies, I presume. Though we did not know each other well, I was shaken to my core when I found out she had been hit by a car at the age of twenty-six. She had taught yoga and traveled and loved. I saw myself in her. I felt my death present. It was a moment where my life became so tangible, so finite, that I had felt the pummeling train to acquire a heightened consciousness or else I would surely flounder.

I remember I went for a walk. The autumn was growing stronger. The time for change was here. After going through the existential stages of mourning someone I did not know, I made some big changes in my life. These changes involved creative, spiritual, and emotional introspection and regeneration. I made a dance. Love grew.

The moment for life is now. 

Jenni Jenkins.