Saturday, August 11, 2007

MOMA and Mom

Last weekend my mother, visiting from Maine, and I went to MOMA and took in the Joann Verburg photography exhibit, which was really quite something. Her luminous large format dyp- and tryptychs are incredibly lush and detailed, inviting and calm -- and an interesting juxtaposition to both Serra's rather cold gigantic curved sculptures and the Soviet Modernist offerings nearby. There's a nice interview with the curator here.

While in the cafe, I had moment of gustatory epiphany, having ordered the delicate cheese board with figs and the Italian semi-soft cow's milk sottocenere al tartuffo. Wow. I am in big trouble. Luckily, Murray's Cheese Shop carries it because I can't go on without it. It's really that good.

* * *

Oh -- and I'd be remiss to not mention the time spent with my mother, a spry 70-something tennis player, reader, minister, and all-around good egg. She arrived with this huge packback, bearing books and unbounded enthusiasm for her 2-day stay that never flagged. Beyond the great food and art we consumed, my favorite moments were when she was taking a nap and I settled in to read her 20-page essay about her mother who died earlier this year. It was by turns devastating and hilarious and offered countless insights into a woman I barely knew and a life (my mother's) that I knew only tangentially. From ski outtings with ski poles made of broom sticks and boots afixed to skis with canning jar rubbers, kittens who drowned in a crock of fermenting beer ("Oh well, we'll drink it anyway!") to my grandmother's weaving business in Arkansas, the essay details an incredible life (lives) of poverty and loss but also rampant creativity and pluck. While immensely entertaining, it was also unbearably sad to read: "Her death broke my heart, cracked it open in its hard places, in my private, unprotected places -- and unexplored geography I'd never really visited." This essay did the same to me, on a microcosmic level, and left me sad, grateful, and wishing to tell my own stories, of my own mother, my own life -- her own amazing life -- and do it before it's too late. I guess I've started, here. Let's hope I have the energy and guts to continue.


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