This year we celebrate our 30 year anniversary. And like every marriage, we have had our ups and downs. In love, out love. I am an in-law to your family, married to an out-law from your family.
Yesterday I read somewhere that to have a successful marriage, it is all about minding the little things, to show interest, to keep discovering hidden treasures in the other person.
This was before I met you. I was an observing child, always looking serious and angry at the world. I was raised in an artistic family, both my parents being writers, my grandfather an architect, my grandmother a pianist. As it turned out it became decisive for the way that I’m looking at the world.
I see poetry in everything. Some tiny, insignificant moment can catch my attention and make me wonder. They are what I call ‘OneSeconds’.
One second means the difference between nothing and something. Between silence and music. Between thought and speech.
But what has this to do with you? Well, everything. My observing nature, seeing beauty in unseen things, makes that keeps me looking at you.
I met you when I was 13 years old. I was introduced to you by my father, who – since he was a writer – used you often. He always wrote by hand, with a pencil. I remember when he broke his right arm, his writing arm, he had to write with his left arm. Of course this was a struggle, but he persisted. His notes laying around the house were not any different from the ones he wrote with his right hand. I asked him how he did this. He went over to the bookcase, and gave me the book ‘Writing, Illuminating and Lettering by Edward Johnston’.
This book told me about you, about your construction, your secrets.
I made my own pen from a goose feather, constructed a writing-desk, and went to the forest to pick the right ingredients for the perfect ink.
It was then that I fell in love with you. I got up early to be alone with you and went to bed too late, because we kept talking. To this day, I’m trying to understand what it actually is that makes you so intriguing. I have so many questions. So few answers. First thing to learn was your construction.
(By the way, do you know that in Jewish culture, students are not judged by the answers that they give, but by the questions they ask? I totally support that.)
I study you like a doctor. Your bones, your skin, your system.
I found out that your skeleton is strong, curvy, flexible. How it changes when you move from standing up straight to kneeling down. How you adapt to certain conditions and different contexts. How you look when you put on weight or when you are too skinny. When you move, or when you are frozen in time.
I study you like a historian. Where do you come from? How old are you? Who are your ancestors? What was your childhood like? Were you a rebellious teenager? I go to libraries to take pictures of you, my camera is clicking like crazy, turning pages faster and faster.
I like you the most when you are in one of your crazy moods. When everyone else doesn’t take you seriously. That is when I see your purest beauty.
Still, there is just one more thing that is probably more interesting than your beauty. And that is your character. That is why I study you like I study myself. As they say: ‘The eyes are the windows of the soul.’ So I stare into your eyes, trying to see what is going on inside, who you truly are. Sometimes I stare at you for hours, without you knowing it. Like a Zen Buddhist, that watches a tree for three days and on the third day, picks up his brush and paints the essence of the tree in three seconds.
Drawing your curves make me feel close to you. Like I tickle your knees, your chin, your back. Just with a pencil and an eraser, no ruler. But you being there, me being here, that’s as close as we can get…
I keep looking for ways to honour you. I create stages for you, the bolder the better, the crazier, the better. My inner voice is nagging, doesn’t want to shut up, telling me that there should be better ways to portrait you.
But it’s not enough.
In-law, out-law. In love, out love. Sometimes you drive me crazy. In my third year at the Royal Academy I even left you. Teachers said I spent to much time with you, so I started looking at others. Although they were all really nice and interesting, I didn’t feel the connection I have with you. Sorry I was unfaithful to you, but as the character you are, you took me back, without complaining, without judgement.
So darling, let me end with a poem by RUMI, that explains it all.
I always thought that
I was me — but no,
I was you
and never knew it.