Monday, February 18, 2013

Letters from the Past

by Drew Martin
In the beginning of 1992 I walked away from my trailer on my aunt and uncle's property in the mountains of Santa Barbara and started traveling; first up and down the West coast and then to Europe, where I stayed for five years. In this time, writing letters was still the predominant way to keep in touch over long distances. The letters I was most prolific and diligent in writing were to my aunt and uncle in California. A few years ago, they returned to me all of the letters and post cards that I had sent to them during my five years abroad.

Most of the letters are decorated with designs and drawings. I wrote on doilies, the inside of envelopes, and on hand-crafted papers. Many of the postcards are altered in some way. On one, I rubbed off the coat of a horse and drew its digestive system. On another I added to the image of a placid lake to make it look like an elephant was walking on water. Some of the writing is incoherent rambling, which is painful to read, but a couple of the letters are really interesting reflections at milestones in my life.

I recently reclaimed a space in my house and returned it to a tiny gallery, where I had a show for a friend a couple years ago, His Girlfriend is Wack!. With friends coming over last night, I decided to put up the letters and have a small show for them.

I have not read through the letters so the show will stay up until I read the correspondences that I want to keep before I archive them in some manner and throw out everything else. I have already ripped up many of the letters and disposed of them.

My favorite notes include lines such as,

I am waiting for a ferry in Algeciras, España to travel to Tangier, Morocco, where we will travel to Fez tonight.

I never made it to Fez because a young woman (who I met on the train and was traveling with) and I decided to stop in Asilah and observe Ramadan with a local we met. She ended up having problems with him and other Moroccan men so we returned to Spain.

These are the most interesting letters for me because they teeter on the edge of the unknown future, which is now a definite past.