Last night I went to hear Harmony Korine speak at the Frist Center for Visual Arts. I was impressed. I haven't always felt this way about Harmony.
It was shortly after we moved into our new house in Hillsboro Village when I first met Harmony. He came by unannounced with his new young looking beautiful girlfriend, Rachel. Jay had spoken often of Harmony, his skate boarding-turned-movie writer and director friend who at age 19 dropped out of NYU to write and direct his first movie; but the wild stories of Harmony coupled with the fact that I had never actually met the guy made him seem more fictional than real.
He hung out for awhile and Jay lit up around his old friend. But I felt suspect. He had a skateboard punk vibe and a young beautiful girlfriend who would soon become his wife. The clip Jay showed me of Harmony getting kicked off David Letterman and his shockingly disturbing movies did not help his case either. Harmony was clean and sober now unlike his days on Letterman but I felt on the fence. I was not too worried because he appeared into our lives out of nowhere after years of not seeing Jay so I assumed he would disappear as quickly.
I was wrong. Harmony continued to come around and even when he spoke of hanging with Franco or DiCaprio, I was kind of impressed but still suspect. It wasn't his moments of quirky off the wall comments or humor because I was raised on this brand of humor and talk.
I admitted eventually to Jay that I actually enjoyed being around Harmony and Rachel because they were fun and down to earth. But truthfully, I was embarrassed that Jay was friends with someone who directed and wrote a movie called Trashhumpers. His movies in general felt so dark to me and I run from the dark but ever since the night of Junebug's loud and sudden loss, it seems I can not run fast enough.
Harmony spoke about Trashhumpers and his other movies and art last night and two things struck me. The first is the phrase I have heard: "the longer the shadow, the longer the light" and if Harmony's movies are dark and the title alone leaves you with images you would rather not have in your head, his paintings are the opposite. I love his paintings because to me, they are full of color and feel light; and I run towards the light even though sometimes the light runs away from me. His movies and paintings have a way of calling you and whatever shade you crave, light or dark, he takes you there and you want to come back for more.
The second thing that struck me is how he speaks of his art in a way that he does not question or care if you question. He just creates. He isn't cocky and he isn't humble about his art. He just is about his art. You don't walk away from Harmony and think "what an asshole" or "he is so insecure" rather you walk away and think what a regular guy which seems so contradictory to what you think you should feel about this confident brilliant artist who is able to paint or write or direct at either end of the light and dark spectrum and in moments be a very likable skateboard punk or in others, he reminds you of a sophisticated Robert De Niro.
So as Harmony showed up in our life more often, I would walk away feeling like I really liked this guy? It wasn't a statement yet, it was more of a question. Rachel and Harmony were so normal in a refreshing way and that surprised me. He was a great dad and Rachel was always cooking something delicious or growing tall sunflowers that reached the sun or sewing or preparing for a new acting role and always being a great mom. She has a sweet and strong hip grace about her which is a compliment to Harmony's unfiltered more raw and messy style. The four of us adored their young daughter who is like a little sister to my kids and they felt the same love for our kids.
Jay loved his friend and I always loved seeing Jay around Harmony. I can still see and hear Jay doubled over belly laughing around him and can imagine Jay with his fro and teen acne skateboarding with Harmony on the sidewalks of the building where I was sitting that once was the main US Postal office in Nashville and is now the Frist Center for Visual Art where Harmony is exhibiting his art.
The question mark became a period and then an exclamation point once I realized that Harmony was not only Jay's friend but was now his wife. Finally I was not the only one nagging Jay. I think Harmony was a more of a nag than me. He was always on some health kick and wanted Jay to join him. He worried about his friend and his yo yo way of living.
"Yo dude. I need you to push yourself. Once a week is not cutting it. You gotta get out there at least twice. Your stomach looks like a bowling ball. Come on you dude. I need you to push yourself."
This is a clean version paraphrase of a video selfie Harmony sent of him talking to Jay as he was running early one weekend morning. Harmony's up close face with his shades on, the up and down motion of the camera while he was running shirtless on a sunny day in Nashville and his words of encouragement (insert question mark??) made Jay and I laugh over and over as we watched it many times. I think we also watched it so many times because it felt good for me to see Jay so cared about by his friend and I think Jay felt the same. Harmony always looked out for Jay.
If you hung out with Jay, you probably heard him speak about Harmony. Maybe you thought Jay was caught up in Harmony's movie director fame but Jay had a way of showing his love via bragging about the people or things he loved most in his life. He spoke this way about me, Zoe & Simon, his family, my family, our friends or music and the newest gadget.
"I just love her laugh." He would say about me. Or "she is such a great writer" or "she has the best smile."
The other night I heard an unexpected knocking at the door around 9PM. It was the night after the election and we were recovering. It was Harmony dropping by just like he did many years ago to say hello. He is in Miami for the year so we don't see them often. I love seeing Harmony but I am not the cool, baggy jean wearing best friend that Jay was to Harmony. I don't talk and hang or belly laugh with Harmony in the same way Jay did.
He walked into my writing studio on Wednesday night as I was deep in words. My writing studio does not have the colorful paint splatters I have seen in Harmony's studio. Rather mine is often a house with dirty dishes and I am somewhere in it tired and ragged like this night. I was putting away dishes in my messy kitchen and coming in and out of the room as Harmony visited with me and the kids. Sometimes I want to be Jay for people and I worry they will get bored because I am not.
I have been hard on myself this week. Maybe it was the supermoon coming or just the collective energy of our moment in time but I felt overcome by feeling small in the world and I missed Jay and how I could rest my head on him and he and his words wrapped their way around me until I felt right-sized again. I felt like I was shrinking that afternoon and I was dizzy and out of breath and I didn't know where to turn until I reached out and found a corner that was warm and inviting and there I turned.
"You know that feeling?" I said to a friend who I thought could understand. "When you just hate yourself?" And she did.
I think what I am finding is that I have words and feelings of a lifetime that are unraveling. I am finding ways to get them out of me and onto this page; and although Jay is not here, in moments I feel the universe is taking care of me. As I sat there impressed with Harmony that night and his ability to be so at home with himself and his creations, I knew home is where I wanted to be too.
Family Dance Party @ Harmony's last fall. I am the awkward dancer.. always!