Sunday, January 04, 2009

An Odyssey

It all began when Tara said a tongue twister on New Year's Eve. We were having one of those conversations about everything-- childbirth, the mind's ability to forget the physical sensation of pain, god, atheism, death, humans, tribes. You name it, we talked about it. Some time in the evening she said: rubber baby buggy bumpers.

At first I thought she said the name of a film I had long ago forgotten, but she said it was just a tongue twister. But why did it remind me of a film title? And what was the film? Well, googling rubber baby buggy bumpers did not yield any movies. What was I thinking?

On the first day of the year, Roger was sick and so was the cat. Actually the cat was on the mend after two visits to the vet. One for a routine check up on the 30th, and the other on the 31st for emergency hydration and kitty ibuprofen to counteract the side effects of the vaccines we had stupidly allowed him to be given. Roger was pretty damned sick, though. He had a cough and was running a 101.5 fever by the time night fell.

I made a big pot of chicken soup, but was still sidetracked by the idea of a movie. Something from the early 60s by an avant garde, experimental filmmaker, a four-word title and one of them was baby. What was it? What was it? Then I remembered a second word, water. I googled baby water film. There it was: Window Water Baby Moving by Stan Brakhage. An extremely intimate look at the birth of his first daughter in 13 dizzyingly close, close-up minutes. Okay, problem solved. (Be forewarned, if you watch the film, it's graphic in the sense that in our culture we hide human bodies, and do not regularly see a woman's body this intimately unless it's meant for prurient interest, which this is NOT.)

But what was Stan Brakhage up to anyway? Well, he's dead. He died in 2003, but before that, he had hooked up with a fellow professor at the University of Colorado, the rather avant garde microbiologist and inventor, Igor Gamow (son of a famous cosmologist, whose work lent theoretical support to the big bang theory). Further research led us to look for a film that we thought would be pretty interesting: Dinner with Brakhage and Gamow. Imagine listening in on their dinner conversation. We thought that could be pretty edifying.

Unfortunately, only a short trailer for the film is available. We did find another film of Igor Gamow's life, but it wasn't all that interesting. It did however yield the very beautiful music of Peppino D'Agostino. If you like fine acoustic guitar music, this guitarist will absolutely delight you. One of his songs was the soundtrack on the Gamow biography. How lucky to have followed that lead.

By January 2nd, Roger was feeling well enough to take a short walk down to the wharf. Everyday we see fishermen and deliverymen, sweethearts and families amble up and down here on these old planks. When we got to the end of the wharf we found this rose. Someone among the daily throngs had left it there for his recently deceased wife. The attached note said that he had proposed to her there nine years earlier and thanked her again for saying yes. It struck us as a singularly beautiful gesture, and a poignant end to an odyssey.

No comments:

Post a Comment