My mom, Roberta Mae Solbrig died on July 10th, 2014. ‘The Dandelion King: Love and loss while waiting in the gas line’ is the story of growing up in a divorced family in Los Angeles in the 1970’s. Despite a moniker of what we lost– my father– it is in large part a story of my mother’s exploration of utopian visions in that era.
One particular experience which engaged my mom was the ‘Encounter Group’. It was a place she could go to cry– and I began to draw her with wings at these meetings when I saw Durer’s “Melencolia” (1514). Like most of these little animation experiments, this is a work in progress, but one which means a great deal to me because I drew the feathers as I sat with my mother in hospice. I think she would have like this picture, as it looks like her and expresses the conflicted experience of her early life as a ‘divorcee’, both adventurous and melancholy. As the piece develops for the book app. I expect to include more references to the Durer image and more text explaining the encounter group. It is a wide ranging page, with moving images and deep history. The documentary which plays behind the piece is “Journey into the Self” (Skinner, 1968) which won the academy of award in documentary in 1968 and can be credited with popularizing encounter groups in the following decade.
Another Section/Fragment: My earliest recollections of television were watching Perry Mason with my grandmother. My mother went out often in these days to attend “encounter groups”. She attempted to explain these emotional encounters to her stoic religious parents. PBS shows like ‘Speculation, with Charles Ferguson’ which discussed sensitivity training with one of the therapists involved in the academy award winning documentary, Journey Into the Self” (1968) were instrumental both in the popularizing and making the encounter group socially acceptable. Truth be told, my grandma, raised by missionaries was no stranger to the small group confessional. (With credit and respect to Paper Tiger Television.)
The life of children of divorce often entails waiting. Listening for a parent– usually a mom– to come home. I have vivid memories of being sung to sleep but not really sleeping. Of listening to every sound that might mean my mom might be home. I am a sound sleeper but a delicate listener. When I couldn’t sleep I would sometimes slip out of bed to see what was happening, only to find the rest of the household waiting up for my mom as well.