December 3, 2011
It’s safe to say most people would back away from a refrigerated storage full of hundreds of human bodies. It was, as the County Coroner told our group, called the Crypt. It was a basketball court sized room of the remains of those who perished in questionable circumstances under investigation. What struck me at first was the waxy mannequin-appearance of the first foot I laid eyes on. A wave of unreality swept through me, and as I stepped closer to the body, a veil lifted from my mind, and the foot appeared clearer to me. As I looked closer, I discovered the familiarity of human skin; the lines, the calloused heels. I walked around the crypt and studied these bodies wrapped in plastic and tied with white rope, each only one foot poking out with a tag identifying the number of the case. I wondered about their lives, whether they had children.
That all these inert remains had been people who lived and loved was most real to me. As I walked through those rows of bunk-bed style metal shelves of plastic wrapped bodies, naked and in varying states of decay, I thought - death is the great equalizer. We shall all end up the same. No social or financial distinctions. We shall all rot and stink - however glamorous or dignified.
And that’s what occurred to me at first seeing them all there in that thirty-seven degree refrigerator. While they wait in that stillness, the ending in the story of their lives is told under microscopes and revealed by scalpels.
The next day I rendezvoused with a friend. Throughout the conversation, he disarmed me by recounting our lives as film students all those years ago and who I was back then. Talking to him about filmmaking and who I was then delivered me to continuity. It drew me toward the thread of my life. There’s a story he keeps me connected to.
Thinking about that, about continuity, about what’s human in death and the persistence of our life stories, I was able to bring the entire universe to a standstill, to the moments of our meeting and parting.
If it were not for the conversation in the alley behind my fellow AFI alumni, Director Bruce Cooper's (Director of Steven Berkoff's play "West" in L.A. recently to great response) favorite West L.A. haunt, I would not have refocused on my writing and film work. Which demonstrates how little we need to do to support or encourage another. In Bruce's case it was considerably more (see Pinfeathers DVD art work).
How would our lives be without friends and those who believe in us? Diminished yes, but we must remember that faith in oneself is a superpower. No matter who believes in me, who encourages me, I push myself and have a firm faith in myself and this has carried me through periods where everything in life evidenced the contrary of what I was striving for.
Michelle Espinosa is Blog-o-licious
I hope not to squander this life on anything less than love. And what do I mean by love? Think fierce love. Love that cuts to the core, that burns away all nonsense in an instant to get at what is most human. M+