What We Keep

We moved Nick up to Washington two years ago. It was a forensic revelation to empty the apartment he'd occupied in L.A. for eight years. Most of it was trash, actual trash. He had surprisingly few possessions. So much has been lost, literally and figuratively, over the years. Much of it is scattered along the pacific coast, from Los Angeles to Olympia, where he attended college for a week. His paintings are safe with me. He has six pairs of Old Navy khakis and a dozen black t-shirts. Whenever we give Nick a gift, he thanks us and then hands it to me: "keep it up at the house for me, please." He lives an ascetic life.

This is why the things he has chosen to keep carry such weight. They are imbued with messages and signals. I was moved as I discovered what was still important to him, so I made an album.

 Larchmont Guy (friends would take pictures and send them to me so I'd see he was well)

Larchmont Guy (friends would take pictures and send them to me so I'd see he was well)

He owns three books.

 One of his linoleum cut prints, wrapped carefully and placed in a kitchen drawer.

One of his linoleum cut prints, wrapped carefully and placed in a kitchen drawer.

GANGboys

"I hope you have a better year." Rose was about fifteen.

 Of everything we've given him and he's lost, ruined or given back, this is the single thing Nick kept safe and in perfect condition. It is the vintage bowling ball and shoes Craig gave him for his sixteenth birthday. He insisted on carrying them on the plane.

Of everything we've given him and he's lost, ruined or given back, this is the single thing Nick kept safe and in perfect condition. It is the vintage bowling ball and shoes Craig gave him for his sixteenth birthday. He insisted on carrying them on the plane.

 The train that he used to play with at his Amah's (my mother) when he was a toddler. I asked him why, out of everything, he kept this. He said: "you know, AMAH."

The train that he used to play with at his Amah's (my mother) when he was a toddler. I asked him why, out of everything, he kept this. He said: "you know, AMAH."

The "subversive" underground newspaper he started in high school that almost got him expelled. I'm not part of the herd, mister trendy man.

He kept souvenirs from every concert he and his dad went to. He stole the photo of Craig from home and kept it in his night table drawer.

I am the self-appointed conservator of his legacy. I have no poem, painting or song to present. Scraps of a life, one piled upon the other, form the work of art that is his story. I will continue to document it, and put it into the world. Perhaps he is stricken, but perhaps he was just too magnificent for this world, a blazing light we didn't have eyes to see. But I can see. A mother's eyes can see. Super tough, I can look directly at an eclipse without damage. Blindness is not an option.