Thursday, October 4, 2007

Household Shrines: They Started with River Phoenix

I remember being really shocked when I heard that River Phoenix died Halloween night, 1993. He was only 23. I don't really know why this seemed so incomprehensible to me--it wouldn't seem shocking now--but it was then, so I created a River Phoenix memorial shrine in an old trunk under the fake fireplace. I framed a photo of him (from a magazine) and surrounded it with candles, silk flowers, ribbon, and various charms and baubles. Some people thought I was being morbid, but I liked it: it gave me a fleeting sense of control about things over which I would never have control or understand.

Then on April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain died at age 27. Once again, I was truly shocked and very sad. To this day, I can barely accept that I'll likely never hear a new Kurt Cobain song. I moved River's shrine into a much smaller area and created Kurt's shrine under the fake fireplace instead. Somehow that still didn't seem enough for such a great artist, so I also made a smaller version of the Kurt Cobain shrine in my bedroom, painting his picture frame to match my room.

My now-husband Kurt (who was a housemate, initially) moved in that summer. He eventually convinced me that Kurt Cobain only needed one shrine in our house. But when Jackie O died in May 1994, my other housemate, Albert, walked in the house after work and gave me a worried look. I asked him what was up, and he shyly said, "I don't think there's room for a Jackie O shrine, right?" I didn't make one.

September 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died at age 25. Somehow I managed to make room for a Tupac shrine, near the fake fireplace, without totally wigging out Kurt or Albert.

We don't have any shrines in the house anymore, but the framed pictures of those three are resting in the old trunk that once housed River's and Kurt's shrines.

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