In Maine on our honeymoon E and I rediscovered puzzles. I'm not sure I ever liked puzzles or even had a memory of doing them as a kid. E and I spent nights sitting by the campfire, listening to the ball game on the radio, drinking beer - our bellies full from a warm meal - doing puzzles. E said we were practicing for our retirement. On some level I think he was right.
In the week we were at the cabin we put together countless puzzles. Kittens in baskets. Cornucopias of fruits and nuts. A coastal Maine scene complete with a mama and baby moose. A red barn on a lake surrounded by trees in their autumn peak. No matter what the theme was for the puzzle it had the same results. Relaxing.
Putting together a puzzle says a lot about a couple although I'm not sure what exactly. E often holds the box, likes to find the core bits - the red barn, the orange kitten, the green grapes or the cornucopia basket. His results are crucial when it comes to bringing our whole puzzle together. Without his solid core our puzzle has no direction. Lucky for me his core compliments my edge. I always start with the edges. I don't like them but they have to be done. Yet despite my love of boundries I never look at the box. I like to dive right in and start matching shapes with other shapes with a casual but positive outlook that everything will come together eventually. Neither of us have the patience for the broad, boring and less inspiring sky.
This week something pieced together for me. It was a flashback of sorts. A moment of clarity about a time when I didn't have clarity. Oddly enough it was related to our wedding invitations.
At the time of getting together our wedding invites we had the great fortune of having them designed by a super talented friend of ours Khoi. Having recently done wedding invites for other good friends Khoi suggested we use the same printer this other couple did. They were cheap. They were in New Orleans. They went to art school with so and so. Give them a call. Ask for Jenny and Kyle. We did.
I talked to Kyle and Jenny at different times and both of them were humble, helpful and realistic in their ability to deliver the goods to me - the occasionally hysterical bride. For the most part things went pretty smoothly despite a small delay due to disorganization on our part. During the brief delay of wedding invites I wrote an email to E that I just recently found. Looking back on the weeks that came afterwards it seemed so foolish of me. The email said something like this,
"Having some troubles with New Orleans printers. There may be some delays. Will look into NYC printing companies as back up should we come across any further printing troubles. These invites need to get out."
The invites arrived from New Orleans on 8/8/05 in PLENTY of time before the wedding. Not only that but they were the most beautiful things E and I could have ever hoped for and exactly what we wanted if not better.
Two weeks later hurricane Katrina obliterated most of New Orleans including Kyle and Jenny's entire printing press. Five and a half feet of water destroyed all of their artwork and their personal belongings. They were forced to evacuate their home and begin again. While E and I were starting our lives together on some level so were Kyle and Jenny to a more severe degree.
We followed their story through their company web site and still to this day get updates on how they are doing. Recently their company Hot Iron Press, was featured in an audio slideshow on CNN.com which also included an interview with Jenny about their experiences as both artists and Katrina survivors. It also featured images of their recent work, “A.R.M. (Art, Ready-to-Make),” and its installation at Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire.
This link was a reminder that life and material things as Jenny says in the interview - are fleeting. A reminder that as couples you sometimes have to dive back in to rebuild what once was. Piece together the sky.