BY BRETT RAWSON
We set up a mic in the middle of a public, busy, and iconic square in Manhattan, and read from our journals and letters. The idea being to bring the private into the public, or smudge the boundaries between each other just a touch.
I was struck by a similarity: the conditions in public were not that different from those in private, perhaps because I often choose taverns or coffee shops that double as taverns to journal, so there are the social elements, but even in silence or solitude, I still hear noise and see eyes. I decided to read two pieces of paper, which are my earliest evidence of handwriting: two pages ripped out from a moleskine journal that I wrote in 1988.
I had addressed both directly above: Jesus. Even though I didn't really grow up underneath Him. But, at that restless age, I was apparently in a pickle. In the first letter, I needed His help. I asked for two things: to help me grow faster, but also to help me "go out" with Daron, Amanda, or Amanda. Insert embarrassed emoji face. Really, Brett? The second letter, written one week later, had a very different tone. "Hey Jesus, It's me again!" We were buds apparently. I thanked Him profusely. Things with Daron were going great and I was already growing! Except a week later, she gently explained it was over, which probably made me curse, mostly likely in vain, which may explain the curse, as I didn't grow for another 7 years, or until the late age of 18.
The past can be inane, embarrassing, and painful, and my impulse for years was to pretend I was no longer those me's, but as Joan Didion writes, "I think we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be whether we find them attractive company or not. It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about."
These letters were originally a part of the online exhibition, "Out Loud." To see the full exhibit, click here.