Arc de Triomphe, babies, David Bowie, death, family life, Hunky Dory, letter to my daugher, love, meditation on time and motherhood, motherhood, music, Paris, photography of children, travel, walking in Paris, young children
To my youngest child,
This evening the sky grew dark as I walked from the Arc de Triomphe all the way down the famous avenue and into the abandoned Tuilleries. The bare plane trees looked like gnarled fingers that had been too long at the piano or farm work; they grew black and blacker still as the night came on. You would have seen them because you see everything, and they would have frightened you. “I scared,” you would have said. But then our eyes would meet and we would laugh, and the laughter would come partly from how odd it is to see that our eyes are identical, and that you sense that and I know it. We are a mirror. Or two mirrors meeting at that end point, at which infinity stretches an image beyond the eye’s perception.
Anyway, Miss Etoile, I was listening to David Bowie, because he died recently and I am still as sad about his death as if a great and dear friend had died. Well, a great and dear friend did die, but the beautiful thing about being friends with a genius who likes to tell stories about the world and himself and all the identities that define the space between is that one day you, too, will become great friends with him, and you will understand why you are named for him, and you will understand how very important it is that when you are a beautiful young woman you will walk down a street in Paris listening to David Bowie.
As I listened to him I wept, but your mother weeps at everything because she is in a constant state of existential and spiritual confusion-joy-grief (what is the German word for that, there simply must be one); you perhaps shall have a lighter sense of humor or feathery touch upon the world. However, given all evidence so far this will not be the case.
You are already a dancer and a breaker of hearts. And you know your own power and your own mind. You are a musician and a speaker and I hope you will be a seer too. You are one badass little being, Isadora Star, and as you dance like Duncan and shape the world like Bowie I hope you don’t stay too much on this Earth. Most mothers want their children to be “grounded,” but more and more I am beginning to believe that my children, and you especially, would do best as a “free man in Paris, unfettered and alive,” as Joni would tell you. She wrote that song for David Geffen, which makes him permanently amazing although I am sure he is a total and complete asshole, but I digress.
Right now you are two. You are still my baby and on this trip it has been very, very strange to not have my little dancer-etoile on my hip, as you tend to be all day every day back home. Your daddy says you are sick, probably because I am in France walking down the boulevards listening to David Bowie (and Kendrick Lamar, he’ll most likely not be a friend but who knows), and Schubert, who will love you always if you love him back. But your mother must sometimes let her celestial self wander, otherwise she isn’t much good for anything. One day we’ll wander together. I can’t wait to see Morocco with you and your brother and sister.
Not quite true, of course, since I gave you an incredible pixie cut that is perfectly identical to the one Jean Seberg wears in Breathless, and you are as lovely as she is, and I am also sure you won’t lose your mind as she did, but I do hope you have her politics.
This evening I walked for many miles. This morning I walked for many miles, too. But this evening I thought about you the entire time. I thought about you and David Bowie, and the short stretch of time a human has on this Earth, and that David Bowie is dead and how incredibly shocked I still am that death exists (does death exist? Lazy semantics on my part), even though I watched your aunt die when she was barely 18. I thought about beauty, which I always do and everyone does in Paris, and I thought about absence, yours, and what my absence means for you while you are sick (my love, my love feel better soon), and that absence is just space, and that space is really what defines a life, whether one is a dancer, a writer, a scientist, a lover, a lazy bum, or a yogini or a mama. It’s all just space and water my dear.
The song that makes me weep the most, even when you are appropriately barnacled to my hip, which you have been since the day you were born and I was insane – literally – except for my instant love for you – the song that most moves me is of course “Kooks” from Hunky Dory. Our friend Mr Stardust wrote that in 1971 my pet, the year your old daddy was born, can you believe it?
Duncan, Bowie’s son, was born that year too, and the lines are a very fine guide to parenthood. Actually, one need not read a single damn book to be a decent parent. Here is the recipe:
-absorb first the melody of the song, which is an ache of gorgeous guitar
-second just hear his voice, don’t worry about what he is saying, because it’s just Love
-then listen to the words, which are filled with perfect young-parent-baby-child rapture
-repeat as necessary, and voila! you will be a mama who worships her children, and celebrates all otherness, which is an important part of the worshiping.
OK my ShakaMunda Isadora Star. It is time for your mother to have a bath. You know how cold she always is, but her heart is never cold, and your mama loves you very much.
“Will you stay in our lover’s story
If you stay you won’t be sorry
’cause we believe in you
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance
with a couple of Kooks
hung up on romancing….”
oh. and tell your brother:
“And if the homework brings you down
Then we’ll throw it on the fire
and take the car downtown”
Je t’aime toujours et toujours et toujours et tou-
PS: I will miss it when your belly no longer causes you to look like a creature from the mind of Maurice Sendak.