Today is our (Bill and me) 23rd wedding anniversary (next year we’ll’ve been together 30 years; and of course Bill is helping me again today). So, I thought I’d tell you a little anecdote of big love.
A few weeks ago, in the mill where I’m mounting my 9th and final solo biennial, I noticed Bill had taken a hook down, probably from a column, when he and my intern were working together to hang some of my drywall. It was in their way, otherwise they would’ve of course left it right where it was.
You see, I don’t detach anything attached to the mill unless I have to.
And, I don’t take home anything from the mill (ok, from this last mill space, I did take home these perfect bird bones I found; a beautiful memento I wish to keep, having something to do with the end of my 18-year mill project, and I don’t think the mill will mind, because this bird becoming part of this mill was not something it or the mill intended, well, at least I don’t think so).
As I clear objects from the mill spaces I use (wood, metal, ceramic), I put them in other parts of the mill, in a more organized manner, like things, together as much as possible, because these things belong to the mill, they are part of its history and the people who once worked there, all of these past workers whose energy is still palpable (I don’t put the things back where they were after my exhibit, because then the mill would look messy again).
I don’t think the mill and its past workers would let me get away with taking things from the mill, home, even if I wanted to, even though I clean their home.
I imagine the energy of the mill and its people—hovering over my own home, a much bigger home over my much little-r home, this place and its people still attached to these objects now just below in our house, the mill and its workers ready to torment us in our own space, knocking my own stuff over until I return their things.
When Bill had detached this hook from the mill’s column, he had put their hook on my microwave in the mill. So, I immediately moved it to a spot nearby upon other things belonging to the mill.
When I had seen their hook on my microwave, I remember thinking, if I did bring that hook home, I would mount it on our garage or porch to hang a plant (raising plants something I’ve not tried since the start of my 18 years…something I look forward to doing with Bill);
or perhaps add it to our other hooks used to hold our snowshoes (…I can’t wait to snowshoe with Bill this winter);
or maybe to hold gardening tools (I’ve been thinking about using my leftover materials to make a few raised beds…for us).
Several days later, Bill was walking toward me with the hook and a smile on his face. He must have found the hook added to the pile of mill things.
And, as his steps got closer and closer, I could tell by Bill’s face that his wheels were a turnin’, and that of course the spinning must have something to do with this hook.
Thirty years together and we’re often thinking the same things. I knew he would say, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to take this one hook home to hang a plant, or tools, or snowshoes?”
Instead, he said with an excited grin, “We could use this to hang one of the boxes you want to install for one of your pieces!”
I had thought of the hook and our home. He had thought of the hook and my work.
I smiled back, and shared what I’d been thinking of using it for at our little cape in Lyman, after my installations no longer exist.
And, we hugged. And, I cried.
And, after Bill left, to work on his own work while I continued with mine, I said out loud in the mill:
“Would you please give me permission to take home this one thing I know belongs to you? I’ll always remember and honor that it’s yours. It’d mean so much to me, as a memento of my time here and in all these mills, also as a token of my love for my husband and his love for me.”
Then, I gently moved the hook to a spot upon other things that belong to us.
And, when we take this hook home, after my final biennial, I think the mill and its workers, will let us keep it, let it be ours, to use however we wish.