One would think that after the many, many moves my husband and I have made over the last 16 years that I would know how to express upon leaving my gratitude to the community that welcomed us in. Every time we move on, I clam up and the words get stuck in my throat. Last night, my students pulled me on stage with hugs and flowers and thank yous and I said nothing. Though it may not make sense, I think the reason this happens is that, oddly, I feel guilty. I don't feel as if my contribution to the community after such a short period of time could be that significant and thus should not be honored. I've always felt my insignificance in the dance world - that gets beaten into you from a very early age.
Ironically, though I don't often see the value of my own contribution, I always see the value of the local community in my own life. With each move, Scott and I are always looking for, indeed, anticipating, the imprint that that new community will etch in us. This has come from long experience. Whether it was our short time in Spain, the few months in northern nowhere Minnesota, or the seven months living amidst the projects in Philadelphia, we have shared, learned, cried, grown and made lifelong friendships.
Scott and I have adopted a way of talking about our nomadic lives in order to better describe what we've felt to be true. We see the many events, places, people in our lives as one thing next to another, placed side by side not sequentially. It's a phrase we've borrowed from artist, Miwon Kwan, who in her book, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, offers a solution to the jet-setting artists who travel from place to place, biennale to biennale, with seemingly no concern with the local community within which the work will appear. Her solution is:
"This means addressing the uneven conditions of adjacencies and distances between one thing, one person, one place, on thought, on fragment next to another, rather than invoking equivalences via one thing after another. Only those cultural practices that have this relational sensibility can turn local encounters into long-term commitments and transform passing intimacies into indelible, unretractable social marks - so that the sequence of sites that we inhabit in our life's traversal does not become genericized into an undifferentiated serialization, one place after another. " Emphasis hers. (166)
Seeing our lives as one place, one person next to another and not after another, has led to the using the metaphor of a patchwork quilt. We like to metaphorically sew on a new patch for each defining moment in our lives and are not uncomfortable with the changes this makes to the fabric of who we are. And luckily, and interestingly, technology has allowed many of our local encounters to become actual long-term commitments.
CMU, I've sewed on a new patch. It's a beautiful, vibrant and durable patch. You are apart of me now. Please email me with your non-CMU email address. The dance world is incredibly small and I hope and want our paths to cross again! All my love, Alicia