Updated: Jul 22, 2019
Say “Missing something,” and see what it assumes in your mind. For me, the phrase becomes positive and negative forms, but I do not know which is which. I typed the line, “I am missing something,” and I meant to refer to a thing I did not see, or a meaning I did not understand: like I was missing the point. But the other sense, that there is a piece in me that should be, but is not, may actually be more to the point.
I remember sitting on the brown carpeting in my bedroom when I was four, working on a puzzle of a black and white cat with a bottle of milk on a light pink background. So clearly I remember thinking that I was not able to do the puzzle by myself. I had never done a puzzle like that all by myself before, made entirely from pieces with no border or cut out shapes to fit the pieces into. I placed some pieces into one another, referring back to the scene on the box, and then moved and turned some more, fitting them together. As I kept trying, I was surprised that by really looking at the box and at the individual pieces, I could see how each of the shapes went together, with no hints from anyone. I put the final part where it belonged and completed the picture in silent disbelief. I was immensely satisfied that all the pieces were in the box, none were left over, and there was the cute kitty with his treat.
Of course there is a third way to mean the words, missing something: to be regretting the absence of a thing. I miss you. I miss it. How could I be missing it if I do not know what the something is that is missing?
An awful loneliness collected in me when I was ten. It grew and shape-shifted, and in time became attached to various people and objects. I found a variety of ways to keep it at bay and temporarily annihilate it. It was such a terrible longing, akin to guilt, and, when I was a child, it most closely resembled a physical malady. Now I wonder if the feeling was actually me missing something.
I had all this junk I did not know what to do with in my art studio at The University of Chicago. Each object was coated and dripping with history that I wanted to un-write, but also personal to me in such a way that I could not bring myself to jettison it. I was going to make art out of these things. Among them were a stack of cards made with marker and pencil on folded pieces of construction paper, which I had never read. They were get well cards from kindergarteners whose their after-school day-care teacher I had been. The children had made the cards for me while I was in the hospital a couple of years prior. At the time, I was in the psychiatric and chemical dependency unit of that suburban hospital, but the kindergarteners did no know that. I cannot find a clean way to explain how or why I ended up there, but, at the time, there is where I needed to be.
Each card said Get Well Soon. Each card said, Miss Lindsay, and most of them said I miss you. I made a sculpture thing I made from these cards, along with my discharge papers from the hospital, and all the broken pieces of objects damaged in drunken frights with my boyfriend. I have no pictures of this piece; after hauling it between several apartments, I left it on the fire escape in Ravenswood when I moved to LA. So many ways I have tried to be real, not to pretend, but to actually be authentic and true. I want to be cleansed all the way to the center, to hit restart and to now, no, now! be the person I want to be for real. But it is as if there is a hitch, a thing that is wrong and is holding me, which I need to hide so no one will see, or maybe a thing from which I must hide. Its center sits in the junction of me and my father, amid so much drama and so much insanity; but the truth, and the antidote to whatever it is that keeps me whirling around in the coil, is in the subtlety and the specificity. I want to see the thing for what it is, and if the thing is something missing, I want to look right at that too.