Desse and Kate

Judith Buerkel, great friend, squareONE partner

Judith Buerkel, great friend, squareONE partner

I agree that the heart of creativity is self-expression. Following one’s own soul, so to speak. Perhaps that is only half of the picture; for creativity to provide the self with substance, it must, in some way, be reciprocal. By this I mean that there needs to be some way of gaining feedback, response from others, interaction. If not, it seems to me that the creative urge has no object, only endless input into a void. (Judith Buerkel, email to Walter Logeman’s Psyber-L email listserv, 1997)

Stephen calhoun, artist

Desse’s Dream II (2016) Stephen Calhoun

As only people who know me well, well know, I am an advocate on behalf of the value of friendship, close relationships, and, collaborative exploring. Starting late, I grew into myself, and next into the small number of relationships, that were, are, able to vigorously support these ambitious interpersonal objectives. I have written at length on this blog about this endeavor, the one bit of writing here that is essential if the stranger wants to begin to get a grip on what my soul the most.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am not a ‘holiday person,’ yet, this year, as a matter of this brutal year, 2016, I am thankful that there are several persons who have embraced the call wholeheartedly to be my close friend. I suppose everybody in this tiny group knows who they are, with my wife Susan, my closest pal, exemplifying the total dedication that literally is grace.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.
And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Last month I walked in the back door of our house and, like I do many times, I spied the mix media piece made by my friend, mentor, associate, co-explorer, Judith Buerkel. She passed away in 2007. In the aftermath of Judith’s leave-taking at the end of a grueling illness, I retrieved Judith small art piece with the help of Holly. I met both Judith and Holly in 1995. Holly remains one of my very closest friends, or, as I am want to structure, Holly is in the innermost devotional circle. In a way, Judith tied Holly and me together.

This piece I spied has a place of honor in the back hallway gallery, a corridor hung with my own, older, art works. On the day I spied the piece–yet, again–I had an idea, that I could use the piece as part of the subject matter, or scene, of a photograph! Even though for a long time I had understood that Judith’s superior artistic eye had fashioned this fine piece out of some of the similar materials, sticks, and dried leaves, which draw my own eye, it never struck me that I might collaborate with her, nine years after she slipped away from the mortal coil.

I made six pieces in two series, Desse’s Desire, Desse’s Dream.

Kate Kuper(image used without permission via Univ. of Illinois, Champaign)

Kate Kuper (image used without permission via Univ. of Illinois, Champaign)

Over the last twenty years, it has been much more likely that my very closest friends have been women. As another friend, the late Ken Warren, would speak of this,

Your anima problem provides enticing tastes of integration.

The first enticing taste, then, came about in seventh and eighth grade, 1966-1968, at Roxboro Junior High, the place where I fell in with a clique of schoolmates, of which three gals came to be among the first close friends I ever had. Kate Kuper was one of the trio, and by the time I graduated from high school in 1972, I counter her as my closest gal friend.

We lost touch after I moved away to Vermont in 1974. But, incredibly, when I came back to our hometown in 1992, my mom reminded me that her parents, Ginger and Al (or Buzz,) played tennis, and that I should look them up. Doing so, I reconnected, and, soon after reconnected with Kate. we caught up by phone, and, enjoyed catching up on several of her visits to Cleveland Heights, and, continued to catch each other up one or two times a year. Kate counts as the longest running relationship I’ve sustained; it marked its fiftieth year this year.

We knew each other’s basic nature fairly well, and, our adult friendship was full of honest exchanges and unconditional acceptance. Kate passed on November 17, a shock to my system I learned about from her older sister a few days after that leave-taking.

About Kate I will tell you several things: she was very brilliant, very self-possessed, very self-effacing, and, very self-critical. She burned brightly, and, her intense drive set her apart from my own hippie boy laid-back, happy-go-luckyness. We both knew that our differences helped our friendly intimacy be dynamic and helped support our friendship over decades.

She told me after her father Al fell ill,

I’m sure glad you came back to Cleveland.

What is my debt to my close friends, and all the great ladies? Immense.

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