Tessarae: Mathias b. Freeae
Life is fragile at times and all too often we let ourselves fall prey to our own human frailties. Within this memoir the author allows us to take a microscopic look inside his mind, heart, body and inner most thoughts as he opens up his life to readers. If you were to create a mosaic of your life and put the small tiles together you might have hundreds of different scenes that depict who you are. What would happen if you each tile you wrote the date, a word or something that would help others remember you and you to recall the significance of that date or time. The sixties was a highly volatile time period both politically and socially for so many. Woodstock would earmark the changes in culture, music, attitude, exploration and human perspectives on life, authority and work. What would happen if as you complete this mosaic one title comes lose and then another creating a broken piece or work of your art and the fallen tiles leave nothing more than shards, pieces of the tiles : Tessare. Take a trip back to the time where it all began where music and songs reflected not only the political climate but change in the way teens and young adults focused on drugs, alcohol and even free sex. Some would forge ahead while others would succumb to the mores of the time as the book opens up with an enlightening session between the author and their therapist setting the tone for what is to come.
The author goes into detail about his affair with Marlene, how it affected his life, his moral values and the fact that when he ended the relationship it was at the ill advice he states of his own therapist. Focusing on choices that have to be made the author often needed to reassess the problem and decide in which direction to go. Marlene he thought was right for him but when the relationship ended she moved one.
Two summers that of 68 and 69 would define the author’s life, moods and actions as he spent them living in Woodstock where he lives a life filled with openness, hoping to find love, acceptance and a place within the world that he would fit in. As you the reader get to explore the time, his friendships and hear his voice you will learn more about his struggles, his failures, successes and the marriage to Adrienne and his subsequent affair with Marlene as eh hopes to find love, joy but in the end some of those tiles in the mosaic took on different shapes and the glue that held them together shattered. Everyone experiences failures and shattered moments as you take the many journeys to Woodstock, meet his friend Hal and learn about his own infidelities, how his wife dealt with them and the end result of so many failed relationships you begin to understand the power of this era, the impact it had on morals, values, music and politics as each of the characters presents his/her own views while the author in every case needs to find some part of him that matters to each one.
Two of the most revealing chapters came when he reflects upon how he treated his daughter Caryn and the fact that she felt unloved and deserted. He never expressed any love for her nor did he understand that she might have mental issues when she got older but merely looked at her even as young as five years old as en extension of her mother a person he despised. The chapter with his son Jordan allows readers to understand why Woodstock will always hold mixed emotions and memories in Matt’s mind and how he wanted to share which he does the meaning of what those two summers meant to him and how it changed his life. Meeting the young man who loved art said it all as art was and still is his passion. Sharing the memories seemed to mean a lot of Jordan yet he did not have the same relationship with his daughter Brett.
Each chapter focuses on another aspect of his life whether his feelings about aging and now 75 and in the twilight or his life or the past that he can’t seem to let go.
After ten years he went back to Woodstock with two psychotherapists that were partners in a “ counseling center way out in Hauppauge, Long Island.” The author worked there a period of four years. The 70’s changes things for him yet appeared as nothing more than an extension of the previous decade. Camping out with his two friends, and hoping to connect with a priest he had met before, he was saddened to see what was left of the church and the disarray it was in and even more the treasures left behind. The abandoned church saddened him. The sixties seems to be a period that haunts him and he cannot let go each person he met and still thinks of he depicts as a character in a play, on a television show or some fictional person that he can remember. His friend Hal, receives his own chapter for you to get to understand and know why their friendship had a special meaning and the remainder of chapter before On Hal explains why he enjoyed engaging people in conversation, relating to Hippies and why they placed daisies into the rifle barrels of soldiers on the March to the Pentagon.
He compares his time in the sixties and his writing skills capturing the “Monarch that was Woodstock,” almost like the sovereign that rules, the majesty of the ruler as if Woodstock created it’s own. He continues to explain that what he was left with at the end were the pieces of the mosaic tiles mentioned at the start of this review or the Tessera of this memoir that holds many different memories as each tile comes off of the total mosaic and is held in separately in the hand of this talented author each one speaks for itself. He reflects about time periods in the fifties and then expounds with more about Woodstock and how the memories of time and place come together and how he feels troubled when the unseen and the unknown haunt him. Throughout the memoir there are many people like Hal, Estelle, Jordan, Caryn, Marlene and so many others whose mosaics form different patterns and stories and who are also left with the simple shards or the Tessare as a constant reminder of what they could have had but did not. The chapter titled An Abundance of Awareness sums it up: “ When I consider the amount of time I have lived and the abundance of memories I have accrued, I think of all the history that will vanish when I disappear.” Not really because this memoir will stand the test of time and your journey in life will always be there for others to share. You are right in that you cannot capture Woodstock in words, but you have recaptured the glory, excitement, the people, the sadness when you think about your parents and how little they did for you emotionally and the scars that you still have that will never heal. But, the chapters that you share with your therapist and the strides that you made and the chapter titled The Wound are profound and give readers a deeper meaning into your struggles growing up, not feeling loved, why you searched for it in so many places and with so many men and women and the guilt you still feel about your daughter, it seems that you still have far to go to understand that you need to forgive you and at 75 you still have a lot more to offer and say through your writing. The author states that part of his problem was his indifference yet you are writing about your flaws, your hopes and dreams and although in some situations it comes out where as in others you tried hard to over compensate and show your kindness to those you met and will meet. This is a powerful memoir that is raw, uncut and definitely will help readers get to know the real Mathias Freese and understand the power of Woodstock and the sixties. Remember this: Your writing is unique, your voice is heard in every word and every story you relate and this reviewer really finds your stories and writing quite prolific and thought provoking. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of trial and error to find out just who we are and at other times we have to accept ourselves without question.
Sometimes it takes a lifetime of trial and error to find out just who we are and at other times we have to accept ourselves without question in order to take those broken shards and put them back together and form a mosaic that is really you.
Fran Lewis: Just review/MJ Magazine