344: “A Collage Narrative” (Natalie LeBlanc)

                “As a collage narrative [my dress sewn from pieces of fabric important to my memories] brings new associations and new questions to surface.” 
                -Natalie LeBlanc, referencing Charles Garoian and Yvonne Gaudelius, in “Becoming through a/r/tography, autobiography, and stories in motion”

                Two weeks ago, over empanadas,  I talked to my friend Jean Carlos in the Krannert Center (embodied moments matter—I feel a sameness of thinking and being, place and thought) and the conversation turned to the nature of our conversation. The things we said, the questions we asked, the hopes we shared—all of them were layered with other conversations, other images, other moments. When he mentioned something about “being himself” I remembered his comment in class about spaces that didn’t feel safe. I remembered his drawing of a teacher yelling “no.” I chewed potato and cheese. It was cool in the Krannert center. Or rather it was warm so I’d taken off my winter jacket, and now the coolness made our conversation feel closer, warmer, like a campfire we were building together.
                I told him (then) that language worries me because it often looks like this, not that. Right now I’m writing about our conversation, I’m wandering back through ideas, I’m describing Krannert’s coolness: I’m interlaying memories and thoughts and places, but the writing seems to put one after the other. I don’t know if I can have multiple thoughts at once. (I’ve heard someone say I can’t). I do know that my experience of the world, of people—of thinking in place and being in thought—involves a kind of interweaving that I do not know how to recreate or even really gesture at in writing. I imagine superimposing all these words: Krannert Center and “being himself” and empanada and winter and Midwest and wonder, but that would make (if I put it together how I’m imagining it) a spiky muddle where all the words obscured each other. I mean the opposite. All the words— all these intertwined thoughts— reveal each other. A collage narrative. They’re molecules vibrating with this melody, and this melody is all their vibrations, together and discordant and varied through time and space.
                This—this writing—is not what I mean. This—this reading—is a little piece of what I mean, in the same way that one blowing leaf of grass helps make the field shimmer like ocean swells. Yes, here’s the leaf. And yes, here’s the field.

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