Lustrous red leaves, cascading mountains, and shuttered homes set the backdrop to Lucy Crowley’s childhood in Plymouth, New Hampshire. With long, dense winters and a population of less than seven thousand, Plymouth offered few leisure activities, often leaving Lucy with four walls of her green bedroom and her creativity. Beside Lucy in her childhood was her best friend Logan—together they would map out the dense forest and play dress-up in the backyard. In gentle winters, Lucy and her friends would ski the nearby mountains and bask in the purity of white New England terrain. And when the nearby University put on plays, the Crowley family would all attend. The days of childhood were fun but hid behind many deep-set problems.
Doctors diagnosed Lucy’s father Robert with Parkinson’s Disease when she was only two. Though Bob tried his best to hide his condition, his deteriorating health quickly made itself present, taking a toll on family dynamics and spousal responsibilities. In many ways, Lucy was quickly thrusted out of her childhood, already learning the fragility of life and the complexities of mortality. Despite her father’s medical condition, Lucy’s family tried to still function normally. Both parents continued to work—her mother as an owner of a print shop and her father as an owner of moving company, which convenient for her father was just across the street from home.
By middle school, Lucy found interest in visual arts, sketching in her notebooks and eventually adding an art class to her schedule. She was also heavily drawn to the language arts and history. These passions and interests permeated through high school, where she took classes introducing her to the works of Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, and Kahlil Gibran—authors whom she would grow to love over the years.
As her father’s illness progressed, so did family tension. Her mother was left to bear much of the weight in the family, and even then her solo efforts weren’t always enough. Five days after Christmas, when Lucy was seventeen, her father passed away, scarring the holidays and intensifying the emotive seasons of her senior year. Two months later, while still mourning the loss of her father, Lucy’s mother was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer. Shortly after, she too died. Overwhelmed with grief, frustration, and confusion, Lucy was left to confide in her extended family and closest friends. Despite these intense events, Lucy still completed her senior year of high school and took a gap year to reflect and decompress from the anxieties that plagued her the year prior.
In present, Lucy keeps her past distanced in an effort to define her life apart from the sudden passings of her parents. Her passions for literature, art, and humanity at large all mark her interactions and permeate her thoughtful work. In spite of her hardships, Lucy still looks to the wonders of the world in optimism and conveys a sense-of-self years past her age.
As you read through these prose, I want you to imagine the dichotomous nature of Lucy’s upbringing and the illusions of childhood that in retrospect gain clarity. Life is full of remembering; life is full of forgetting. But finding a balance between the two is at the crux of happiness.
Things were simpler when you had your best friend. You could look into their eyes and know that they appreciate you—you. You laughed at the stars and cried into the maple trees with company. And when you skinned your knee learning how to ride a bike, their presence absorbed the pain. Now, I scoff at the sky and bawl into the forest, not alone but lonely.
Runs with Scissors
People always tell you not to run with scissors—I’ll tell my children the opposite.
Growing up with anxious hands and eager creativity, running with scissors meant I had an idea in mind that needed execution immediately. My creations rarely came to fruition, but what is a creative mind if not a box of grand, yet incomplete ideas?
Stop. I’ve had enough.
This bullshit is exhausting.
Take me out of purgatory and let me live.
I miss you Father, and I miss you Mother, but your passings can’t define my life.
How do I remember and distance myself? Is that even possible?
My life begs me to begin.
So now I look at you with wistful gaze.
And I look to my life with hope and earnestness.
Show Me Something
I think of you in-between coherent thoughts.
I’m reminded of that thyme perfume you wore when I walk by that candle shop on 13th
I remember your gentle touch when the doctor brushes my chest and checks my heartbeat
And I imagine what you might be doing in this moment, had you lived to this moment.
I know you live somewhere.
–Reflection and gift–
As my gift to Lucy, I constructed a mobile out of acrylic and engraved verses and quotations from some of her favorite works of writting— M Train by Patti Smith, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde.
I intentionally chose each quote to circle around the themes of love, temporality, and identity as these were topics Lucy and I talked about quite a lot.
Each component of the mobile is connected in a unique way—some are wrapped around, others use thick wire that forms asymmetrical shapes. The individual nature of each mechanical connector coveys the tacit connections each of these works maintain and the unique personal connection each work of writing has established in Lucy’s life.
I chose to construct a mobile for many reasons. A mobile is dynamic and shifts weight frequently, much like the pertinence of each quote will shift throughout Lucy’s life. Mobile’s themselves are also sculptures made to look up to and dream, and there’s something magical I quite like about that.
–My artist inspiration map and artists who influenced their influences–