Meet Me in the Middle

The Art Assignment is a new project from PBS and Sarah Urist Green. Their profile on YouTube describes the project:

We take you around the U.S. to meet working artists and solicit assignments from them that we can all complete.

The first assignment launched on the 20th February with Douglas Paulson and Christopher Robbins and challenges people to meet someone at an exact midpoint.

I was really looking forward to taking part in the Art Assignment projects and my heart sank when I heard that the first project would involve meeting someone else at a specific time.

I suffer from horrible levels of social anxiety and depression*. I find interacting with people extremely difficult, often cannot leave the house and have massive panic attacks about having to be anywhere at a set time. It affects my work, my friendships, most areas of life and I couldn’t see how I could manage to take part in the project. I got to thinking about how I ended up feeling like this. Then I realised that I could almost do the assignment but with a bit of a twist. I wouldn’t meet someone else – I would meet myself.

I mapped the midpoint between my childhood home and my current home. The process of thinking about how I got there took up the journey and I was mainly thinking about how location affects people differently – one street can be someone’s home, someone’s bad memory, a scene of a crime and a place rebuilt over a memory.

I wrote a poem based on the realisation, the journey and the destination.

LONGITUDE: LATITUDE

I’ve forgotten how to crawl. I learnt the steps and started
to move. Forwards and away, a dance to change places.
I know where I started and I know where I am. The middle
lost where spring-strong weeds grow up across the path.
Decisions. Second right, straight ahead, keep left. Turn around.
Movement by degrees. North and South to new and old.

Two people move to the same place, old and young.
They look the same but don’t know each other.
A little girl stands in the way. She has high white socks
and clean shoes, no mud caught, nothing pulls in the fabric
of her clothes. Small sizes of familiar patterns.
The centre remains a still point as we both head towards
it – one half walking forwards, the other stepping unsteadily back.

Meet me. Billboards spring up along the side of the road
with frozen frames of this lived life. A blue bike and a knitted jumper.
A wooden staircase with red carpet. A sandcastle and a piggyback.
Countless uniforms – take one off for the next to be fitted.
The airports with planes to nowhere. A photo album of blurred place.

We mark our travels with a list of destinations, the dotted lines
between hide the long times, a commute from childhood, onwards.
Birth. Graduation. Homeowner. Wife. Mother. Retiree. Death.
London. Edinburgh. Paris. Washington. Hong Kong. Berlin. Moscow.

They will scratch two dates onto a stone when we leave.
The definite places with the unknown line between the two.
Now and Then. Her and Me. Longitude and Latitude.

Follow along online using #theartassignment to see other people taking part in this and the up-coming art assignments – or take part and make your own!

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*I’m in therapy and my doctors are being great. I’m working hard on getting better and making progress but it’s difficult and slow.

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6 thoughts on “Meet Me in the Middle

  1. A brilliant solution to your dilemma…I am in a similar psychological state to the one you describe and would be hard pressed to complete this assignment in any other way.
    The poem that came out of this experience is very fine writing.

  2. I totally agree with Ronald. I have been through years of therapy, in treatment for bulimia, spent 10 years sober. Writing has been my salvation. How can I follow you? I do not see the button.

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