guest post: resident artist chelsea granger

When I say you I actually mean me.

Sometimes it can take a flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan to remind you-- yes you are still here, you are still a body you are still a heart. Sometimes you need to fly out from the tiniest sweetest airport in Vermont where everyone is so nice including the security woman, who has to pull you aside and pat you down because your glittery gold & navy striped shirt- is in fact- woven with metallic fiber and your entire upper body has appeared on their security monitor! 

And then when you use the bathroom for one last time before you board the plane that will take you to Michigan, you sit on the airport toilet and see the words ‘you are loved in sharpie under the toilet paper dispenser, and instead of feeling cynical you are relieved.  And then-- when you look up and see a heart scratched into the door in the same stall you know that things are as they should be or at least for this one moment. And you knew you needed this cosmic bathroom message because you are desperate to know you are still alive and you are still meant to be here-- because your mom died suddenly 10 weeks ago and your heart is broken and nothing makes sense.  

You got accepted to this artist residency at HAVE COMPANY through an email only 9 days after she died- you read that email sitting on the turquoise shag carpet of your childhood bedroom- you had never cried so much. And you couldn’t know then what you know now which is YES you are still meant to be here- on earth and of this world and yes you are loved.  You need this residency right now, not so much because you are in the middle of a dreamy art project but more as a reminder- you can keep choosing to be alive even though your mom died.  She would have been so proud to hear about this residency, she would have asked you a million questions and you probably would have gotten annoyed at her (what I would give now to be annoyed by her too many questions).  

And actually your grief is still surreal- you are so new to a world without her that you actually pick up the phone to call her and tell her about something and then with the phone in your hand you remember you can’t- because she is dead and you are alive.  You are of the world full of phones and glassware, glue and yarn- she is now of a realm you are working everyday to understand. You read its signs in birds and bathrooms and people with spunk and big hearts. 

And life is a shape shifter and grief is a shape shifter. And right now you need the holiness of the ordinary world to remind you to keep breathing. And that holiness can come in the form of a bathroom heart or meeting a new person who reminds you- yes oh yes I remember this, the beauty and loudness of days, that things are funny, the music mixes are good and there is pizza and cookies and you can write postcards from here.  There is just love and the day to day-ness.  It is important to carve out places to be, places to invite people into and places to share. Places with dish soap and desks. 

I am so glad to be at Have Company for 10 days, I am working on writing a zine about death and grief but mostly I am just here in the days with sweetness.  I am saying yes to drives up north to hear bands I have never heard of, I am spending time in peoples homes and eating soup they made and jambalaya, I am looking at zines and laughing with Marlee.  I am drinking coffee and taking showers and for now in this time of deep grief it is enough and it is way more then enough- it is really beautiful.  Thank you Marlee and all the folks I have met, thank you Grand Rapids. 

With love, Chelsea