Emily Reeder and Cal McNamara
by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: October 24, 2016
Name: Emily Reeder and Cal McNamara
Age: 27 and 25
Pronouns: She/Her and He/Him
Location: Arlington, VA
If you were a sea creature which one would you be?
Cal: What’s the biggest whale? That big ass whale, that just opens it’s mouth…
Emily: The blue whale?
C: No… It’s huge…
E: Humpback whale?
C: Maybe… Whatever that biggest one that lives in the ocean because they cover the most distance and like, the ocean is huge so… You kind of need to be able to get around quickly.
E: I don’t really identify with the creatures so much. I have a really good relationship with the ocean and just, as it is… It revitalizes me on it’s own. So I think I’m comfortable with the ocean being itself and me being myself.
C: ::Whispers:: Choose a creature.
E: If I had to choose a creature I would be… I like sea urchins the most. I’m very attracted to their form and I’ve made them in art a few times. I don’t know if I would want to be one, but I like them a lot ::laughs::
What are you passionate about?
Emily: I’m really passionate about making art, making jewelry, teaching. Very… Very very creative. I paint, I sew, I make jewelry, basket weave. Whatever I am able to get my story out in is the media I choose at that time. And so it’s more about getting lost in that moment and breathing for the first time in two or three hours and being like… Woah. I got lost in that and it took me somewhere. And hopefully it will take someone else somewhere. That’s what my passion is.
Cal: My thing is music mainly. I’ve done some collage work before but it’s mainly been recording and writing music and playing guitar since I was 11 so… Then I introduced other instruments into my life so being able to be a one man band… It can be tough, not having the input from other people but I’m able to get lost in the tools that I have. It’s kind of like she said, coming out of that haze of a five hour session, literally forgetting what time even is, not even considering that time has passed to coming out of that and hopefully able to get other people to feel the way that other music has made me feel and what made me want to create in the first place.
Do you think emotion plays a big role for you creatively?
Emily: I know for me, I didn’t really understand art as a creative outlet until I stopped taking medication for ADHD, when I was 13 or 14. I used to want to be an engineer and I joke a lot that I am an engineer, it’s a joke around the house a lot. But when I stopped taking those prescription drugs I kind of realize that the sky was blue and that there are colors in the world and there were ways to do things… It was something that was kind of closed off to me for almost all of my development in childhood. And so it was this “WOAH!” Moment and that’s why I want all the things, whatever is the best way to explain a certain something, I want to find it. That just… Since it came to me, once I was already developed, I was past puberty and knew how to interact with others and had independence when it started so it just became a way to… Share myself.
Cal: I think for me it’s all emotional, because I’m such an emotional person, whether that means being overly happy about a certain thing to the point of tears or a panic attack- being able to turn that into music and knowing that the energy spent going into music versus a bad interaction with someone, or an embarrassing one, I can feel that energy leaving in the same way but it’s put into something I can repeat in my headphones and… It’s like having a conversation with myself. It used to feel like and can sometimes still feel like something that has to be drained. Like cycling new blood, it’s cycling myself through the shit that piles up and getting it into this pureness. I think it’s an important communication tool, to be able to communicate with myself and to those who are important around me.
Does your individual creativity go into your romantic relationship?
Emily: Hell yeah ::laughs::
Cal: Yeah ::laughs:: Like the other night, she was working on crafts and stuff that she’s doing for Halloween because we’re throwing this big party and I was remixing this song, and I could look over and see her working things out in her brain as it’s going on behind me and we both look up and make eye contact when we notice that the other person found a stride in their project and that was so cool. So we get that immediate feedback and she’s not just sitting there watching, she’s doing her thing and we get to ping pong that, that energy and experience.
E: Our relationship started long distance and one of the things that I found was we got so excited about telling each other what we were doing, so we wanted to do it more. So the conversation kept coming back to creativity and the process and you know, how we could do more as artists in our own fields. And that, it just became this snowballing of wanting to do more so we could talk more sooooooo now I do more! That back and forth has always been just… This really strong part of how we connect with our own things and it’s certainly not the same craft at all, but we can understand the concepts and how that relates to our lives.
How did the relationship begin?
Cal: We’ve been dating officially for like… 6 months?
C: But… This like, knowing that this was heading in this direction happened about a year ago around this time.
E: Talking everyday for about 11 months or so. It was something that happened really naturally. It kind of started off as a “hey, how’s it going” to constant contact even though there were hundreds of miles there, and thinking “what do we do… What’s the next step?” and to came down to closing the distance so we could have a relationship that felt like it was real.
C: The important thing to know, from my end of this, about how this started was that I was coming off of this coming of age feeling of like… I had moved away from home and then I moved back home and I felt like I was living in a ghost town and my mom was trying to get into the groove of her own life in her 50’s, to prioritize, and everyone was kinda getting into their own cove of life and then there was me just endlessly anxious for more and all the freedom to do it. I tend to spin my wheels a lot and I would go and talk to my mom and she didn’t have the energy anymore to deal with my repetitive life complaints with no attempt to change on my end and she told me that. So, with Emily, the first conversation over the phone after I saw her come back for the holidays because she grew up in Connecticut too, was her asking how I was doing and me telling her that I was in the worst way. And then we got on the phone and I knew she was… I knew it was gonna grow when I would completely unload about my life and my current mindset and she would just like… Be there. She never said to go get help, she was willing to take me on and that helped me open up in a lot of ways.
E: Yeah, that first phone call happened with advice from my Uncle ’cause he said that if I was really trying to get to the bottom of how my friend was doing, how that other person is, to just get him on the phone ’cause you can tell.
E: You can see right through it, you can see right through all of it. And I told him to just give me a call…
C: No better way to diagnose.
E: Yeah, we started talking to see if we could solve the issue at hand and then it became a constant conversation.
What do you think of love?
Cal: What do I think of love… Or what do we think of love…
Emily: It’s a heavy, wonderful, beautiful, scary, exciting, thrilling thing.
C: Yeah. I don’t think I ever had experienced it. I had tried to prop up my emotions to try to feel it in previous relationships thinking that it was a thing you do and try for the sake of feeling like you’re not wasting your time. But that’s not how it works at all. When I told her I loved her though… It blew my mind. It was a level of life that I had only heard people talk about.
E: For me, I had been in a long term relationship, I have been married so I was like… Over it, in a sense. And as our relationship started to develop, I started seeing and experiencing all these things that I never had. And holy shit… There is this feeling that this person is your safe space. Is your happy place. They want things for you, they encourage you. And you know when you’re there, in that space together.
C: We are able to retreat to each other.
E: To recharge and be there.
C: Being able to show the affection that we both need so we’re able to face the world.