July 2019's Post-it note art from Instagram

Over on our Instagram page, we’re posting a weekly installation from Clare Johnson’s Post-it Note Project, a long running daily project. Here’s her wrap-up and statement from July's posts.

July's Theme: Just Read The Last Post-it

Till now I’ve focused on post-its selected by my family, but July’s were chosen by my friend Francesca (Brief Overview: we’ve known each other since childhood; Fun Post-it Fact: her baby featured in one published last October). When I suggested she consider advance parameters to help narrow down from 4,000 existing post-its to just 4, I suspected I’d have to offer some guidance — but I was wrong. She texted back immediately: “I would like to choose half from the year you moved back to Seattle, and half from the current year.” The text continued, “Just feeling so grateful that I have gotten to be in close proximity to you these last several years, through ups and downs, big life changes, and the day-to-day. It would be neat to try to give these years a sort of virtual hug by choosing post-its on either side!” This renders me speechless with gratitude and love, and I don’t know how to be clever in writing about it. (Separately, the JOY/RELIEF of having someone in my life who shares my unfashionable propensity for wordy text messages!!) It makes me bashful to print such things, but I want to save this text forever and publishing it seemed like a decent preservation method. When I moved back from England 9 years ago it was sudden, awful. The prior reality got torn apart in ways I couldn’t control; a heavy-handed melodrama I didn’t recognize was apparently, bafflingly, real life. The stupid stupid reality of it was just my everyday, all the time. Nowadays I know I’m better off in this 2nd version of adulthood, the other years shrinking into a shorter and shorter percentage of my whole. But in that first year just a few things could give me solid sense of that fact: a spectacular kid (I wouldn’t have met her had I not needed money/a nanny gig so urgently), my new studio (my perfect years-long studio, my studio I now have to vacate), and Francesca. Just a week in, stunned and no idea what to do with myself, I could still tell how wonderful it was to finally live in the same city as each other again. (In my studio heyday, we went to the nearby noodle house so frequently together the owner demanded “where’s your girlfriend?” when I went in without her.) My parents also took care of me—I was so grateful and embarrassed—I still am—above all grateful. There’s something when they still call me the nickname they always used, my body relaxes like I can live in every time at once, like it’s my real name, ungendered and short-haired. I think she chose the fortune cookie because she liked the realism, but I find it comforting—it’s from a trip to Ballard Mandarin, finding that the same family who owned the long-gone favorite restaurant of my childhood were still running the same kind of place, somewhere else. It’s nice when past loves stick around—or at least scoot to Ballard and get reborn, still brusquely thrusting me extra fortune cookies as ever. The last one is Francesca’s parents’ house; we both thought for a moment it was her kid’s birthday party, but looked at the date and saw we were wrong. It’s a different story, a different much more vulnerable baby, I’d rather keep that one to myself right now. The words in the art are what I wanted to say.