“She had turned 3, this chatty little girl, who was cute in both senses of the word, had eyes that matched Trevor’s jeep. The color of the Californian skies. She called him treasure. I have a picture of him carrying her on his shoulders; the sun sparkling through her party pink butterfly wings. “
My latest (and 4th!) performance at the Contemporary Irish Arts Centre, Los Angeles, was the most rewarding. The invitation to read a piece of poetry on the theme of memory at their “Time Before Now” event prompted me to write something new, something specifically for it. My memories of Los Angeles, the place I’ve called home on and off for 22 years, are coloured by a catalogue of loss. This was my opportunity to LARP Proust and go in search of lost time.
At this Poetry Ireland sponsored event, I was amongst actual poets and was introduced as such. A bit embarrassing. Was I a poet, and I didn’t know it? I demurred and disavowed this title, announcing I was not reading a poem but a testimony. I read a piece entitled ‘Losing, my memories of Los Angeles’ that addressed the abduction of my daughter, the death of my father, and the ending of my marriage. All this revolved around the death of my close friend Trevor Murray, who welcomed me to LA when I first arrived and whose 19th anniversary fell on the day of the event.
Not exactly a barrel of laughs. But I felt I addressed a subject that affects everyone: loss. I also attempted to avoid self-pity. I wanted to share the truth of my life in a city of sunshine and sushi, ocean breeze and swaying palm trees. All these things constitute my joyful daily experience of the city, but they are marinated in memories of bereavement and dispossession. The bitter-sweet reality is that the process of making memories accompanies the inevitable erasure of time. To make a memory, it seems, you must take a loss.