Tonight for some odd reason, out of nowhere, I decided to “google” Susie Paul. Susie and Bobby were friends from the Texas days, Corey was small and Joel was brand new back then. Bobby and Susie lived in the upstairs of a wonderful dank falling down Victorian house out on Westheimer in Houston. Susie was unique and original and one hell of a photographer even then. We were both just getting started and I always planned to go back to Houston one day to finish the circle.
Somewhere in my boxes of things there is an exquisite photo Susie took of Dan holding Josh like a father madonna figure, shadowy and in black and white, I have such vivid memories of time spent with them in the Texas summer time. Smoking dope, making dinner and laughing. It was 1972 and we were so young. They sent us a Christmas card one year ala John and Yoko, naked on a bed with an American flag behind them. We loved that picture and I still have it.
Dan and I divorced and Susie and Bobby divorced. I lost Dan to non-Hodgkins lymphoma a few years ago and tonight I discovered Susie lost her battle with breast cancer in March of 2005. It just broke my heart to find she was gone before I could double back in my tracks from here and now and go back to find her and reconnect.
Susie was incandescent and an earth mother at the same. I was so happy to find out that she became a very well-known photographer in Texas and won all sorts of awards. What I found is that she became even more of a political activist over time and I’ll bet she never compromised or faked anything.
Susie, I can’t even afford to buy one of your photos now and that is as it should be. You are in my memories and my heart and you and Dan will be forever sitting by the window in your shady living room on a warm bayou smelling summer evening. I’m happy that I knew you. In my mind’s eye, your hair is long and dark and parted in the middle,. It falls forward and gets in the way of your camera. I think you had that 1957 camera even then, and your bathroom was a dark room full of shots hanging from the ceiling. I see you both and you are laughing and wearing some sort of peasant shirt and no bra. I don’t think you owned one ever. Dan has on cut off jeans and blue shirt and no socks and he needs a haircut, he looks intense even with a baby on his knee. When he laughs, its a big laugh and his head goes back and his white smile and dimples show.
I believe in ghosts. Mine are in my heart haunting me. I know exactly what they would say to me too.