I killed her last winter. Today, I brought her back to life.
Regular visitors to this blog will remember the sad, sordid tale of the Bourka Bee Goddess, which I wrote about last January in a murder confession titled “Death of a Deity”. It was a story of love and loss and accidental death, and surely ranks among the classic tragedies, somewhere between “Romeo & Juliet” and “Jackass 2”.
As I wrote previously, I was grief-stricken by the BBG’s passing, as she had been with me for over half my life at the time of her death. The fact that it was my own clumsiness that caused her untimely demise added a layer of guilt to the swirling pool of emotion I found myself drowning in after she died. Add to that the belief that, by the very nature of my acquisition of her, she was ultimately doomed to meet such a sad fate, and it is easy to see how I might have descended into a state of despair when I snuffed out her light. I had plans for her. I had intended to brush the dirt off of her, clean her up, and give her a new life as my camp totem at this year’s Burning Man. I was joyful at the idea that –after so many years of neglect– the Goddess would return to a place of respect and reverence, overseeing a party atmosphere like she did when I was in my twenties (although this time without all the booze and cigarettes and illegal substances clouding our relationship). But alas, I broke her, and after I got over the shock, I took to the blogosphere to confess my crime. And an unexpected thing happened. Readers suggested that she wasn’t dead and gone. They pointed out that she might be fixable — and even if she wasn’t, she was still intact enough to perhaps exist in a new form. The message was, don’t give up on her. She was worth saving. And they were right. She was. So last week, I took some epoxy and re-connected her broken pieces. I wasn’t sure they would hold but gave it a shot, and to my surprise, they did. I let it cure for a couple days.
Yesterday, I gently and carefully picked her up and carried her inside the house, and set her on my kitchen counter. With an array of acrylic paints and brushes at my side, I set about giving the Bourka Bee Goddess her makeover.
As I was painting her lips, I noticed a chip in them that gave them a flawed, uneven look. At first I thought that it was a result of her “accident”, but then recalled her years of sitting neglected out in the garden, moved carelessly from home to home, and realized that she could have received this injury in any number of places over the years. As I brushed on the red paint, I was reminded of the importance of caring for the things I love, and never taking anything for granted.
After spending several hours devoted to her makeover, the Bourka Bee Goddess was complete. She had a new look, and more importantly, she had a new life. As darkness fell and I cleaned the paintbrushes and put the paints aside, I felt as though I had righted a great wrong, and I had a sense of gratitude that felt like joy. The Bourka Bee Goddess was back!
She will accompany me to Black Rock City next weekend. She will ride in a protected space, in a sturdy box that will prevent her from being chipped, marred, or (heaven forbid) broken again. She will be my camp totem, and she will watch over our stuff while we are out exploring the playa. She will get dusty — boy, will she get dusty! She will not look the same when she returns. But that’s okay. She has already changed so much. It turns out, change is good.
There is something about art that liberates me. To create something from nothing, to take a blank page or canvas — or in this case, a blank bust of some alien-looking creature — and transform it into something different than what it was… it brings me to life. It sets me free. Reading through that original post – where I confessed to the killing – I was reminded of how I had spent so much time feeling “stuck”. The last few years of my marriage, and the first year and a half of living on my own, I was so out of touch with myself, with who I am as a man in this world. In a very real way, I was cast among the flowers and weeds, much like the Bourka Bee Goddess was in her years spent in the backyard — I was hidden from view, fulfilling no purpose, and my gifts were going unused and unshared. I did not realize it, but as I pulled the Goddess from the weeds and cleaned dirt and snail tracks off of her, I was clearing away the dirt and weeds that had accumulated around my life. And later, as I repaired her broken body, a part of me was healed too. And as I painted her blank surface to bring out her weird, otherworldly beauty, I saw the otherworldly beauty of my own weird creative spirit. In saving this bizarre piece of art, the artist in me was also saved.
She may not be worthy of The Louvre, but she will be right at home at Burning Man.