Jeniviva. Photography by Pixievision.
I received terrible news today. Someone who I was close with during a pivotal time in my life from when I was 17 years old into my early 20s died in a car accident. It’s hard for me to even write let along compose thoughts about this because I am so overwhelmed with grief. How does one make sense out of such a senseless tragedy?
I was going through so much turmoil in my life when I first met her back when I was in my late teens. She was one of the people who welcomed me into her home and heart during my darkest moments and I spent some of the most vivid moments of that part of my life with her.
So many memories are flooding into my mind. Here are a few:
~ nights spent in her cocoon-like room listening to barely audible Roger Waters (my dreams still recall the dream-dialogue from falling to sleep to all those listens of The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking by candlelight in her room especially Go Fishing ), Dead Can Dance, Peter Murphy and Siouxsie and the Banshie albums before drifting off to sleep,
~ the first band I was ever in with her (she had an incredible voice),
~ watching her roll down the hill (on multiple occasions) in the amphitheater at Queens College,
~ her referring to me as Gothic-Barbie when she first met me at 17 (I had long blonde hair before I started to dye it 47896 different colors),
~ the time we went away for a weekend in winter with our drummer and other bandmates that is forever etched in my mind (standing and twirling in the snow! laughing at everything and anything, the crazy breakfast we had that one morning when we were all so tired and hungry and everything was hilarious),
~ both of us dressing up in Victorian costume after watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula, trying to re-enact scenes (she was Mina all the way and I was a terrible Lucy) and collapsing into laughing fits because we realized how absurd we were being,
~ watching Total Recall for the first time ever in her parent’s room on one of the many weekends I slept over her apartment and rewinding the scene with “two weeks” over and over again because we couldn’t stop laughing,
~ listening to Portishead for the first time with her and our friends,
~ the awesome faces she used to make whenever Peek-a-Boo by Siouxsie and the Banshees played,
~ going to The Bank (goth club on the Lower East Side) with her and our friends (tons of memories tied up with this),
~ that one time when we were supposed to be handing out flyers for something (band thing? I can’t remember) at The Bank but we ended up leaving the flyers in some corner and dancing and laughing to 3 songs instead (oops) (hah)
~ comforting her and crying with her in the bathroom at Will’s funeral and the conversation we had that evening and hug we shared that seemed to last forever
~ her reading my runes for me when I was 18 as I smirked because I thought it was absurd nonsense. In retrospect, it was a painfully tragic prediction of things that (bizarrely enough) were about to occur and ended up actually happening (we both thought there must have been a mistake in the moment though),
~ her penchant for silly nicknames - her name for me was “Nivea”
~ listening to Mazzy Star in Chris’s basement with Yana in the little furnace room and making up alternative lyrics to Unreflected that may or may not have included a lyric change from ‘memories’ to ‘mammaries’ (still makes me laugh),
~ a very deep conversation I had with her a few years ago out at a dance event about our lives (I can’t get what she told me out of my mind and it pains me that we never continued that conversation),
~ her personality that was larger than anything in this whole wide world.
She was a star: one that burned brightly with great intensity.
She had a personality that could fill up the universe with light, laughter and magic.
She takes the secrets I shared with her about things I have never uttered to anyone else with her now and my heart feels heavier than air.
I have some very existential beliefs about our existence on this earth. Yet somehow, with this loss, I feel as if her spirit is tangible; as if in every tear, a bit of her is present. She touched so many people’s lives. She touched mine in a way that I will most likely never forget for as long as I am blessed enough to exist. I am reminded of how fragile and delicate our existences are in this moment.
Many people know (I can’t use the term ‘knew’ just yet, it’s too difficult and makes it too real, like pouring salt into a wound) her via her brilliant dance career. I am going to share some performances of hers that I love immensely so others can understand even just an iota of the beauty and talent this world lost today:
Jeniviva - Plight of the Siren Performance Piece
Jeniviva Mia, Halloween Haflha at Je’Bon 10.26.2011
Jen talking about Gothic Bellydance and femme fatales
Jeniviva - At Dances of Vice 2010
Jeniviva performing an improvisational piece back in 2005 (one of my favorites despite the video quality)
I will end this post with one of Jen’s favorite quotes from her favorite novel by Herman Melville along with a song that has special meaning:
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” -Chapter 1 - Herman Melville - Moby Dick
Jen played this for me years ago for the first time on an intense night that will forever remind me of her and somehow seems fitting for right now:
Lisa Gerrard - Sanvean
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