after the show
Melonie and Laura got here with Heather a bit before midnight Saturday. Heather's right on the money when she says it's impossible to be bored with Melonie and Laura around.
Laura has that rare spontaenously eloquent wit that can not only roll with the punches but zing in a few volleys of her own before you even saw them coming. Laura is to humor what Maria Sharapova is to tennis. Laura is who you want to have with you when you're having a baby, a round of champagne or... an art show. I told Laura this weekend that although I truthfully haven't known her very long, I think I love her. She answered very seriously, "You had me at hello."
Then we busted up laughing.
Melonie, of course, was wide awake regardless of the late hour. Melonie was born awake and full of energy -- with fabulous hair, just to add insult to injury. At nearly midnight I very nearly resemble a stoner, because the night time is not my right time. The sun goes down and I take on a dazed, stunned look, murmuring things like "nighty-night, 'morrow wakey wakey."
Unfortunately at nearly midnight Saturday I was still murmuring similar doggerel and now I think Melonie and Laura are convinced I really am a stoner. (I'm not. Just for the record. Let's be clear. Because if I was, would I really worry so much about each and every little tiny thing? Think about it.)
And as for Heather, well....If you read Heather's blog at all -- and if you're not why aren't you? -- you already know she's from Texas. You could say my children are enchanted; they went into conference with themselves and voted to adopt Heather into the family ASAP. They fell upon her Sunday morning with clamors for stories about Texas and rodeos and whether cowboys really do exist in America. She indulged them with infinite patience.
And as a Halloween gift, Heather brought them gummy brains that delighted them no end, though to me it just looked like individually wrapped afterbirth, I regret to say.
I come from a long line of incessant talkers -- God help the descendant in this family born mute, for the sign language required to keep up would sprain their wrists for life -- so I tried really hard not to overwhelm Heather with a running commentary on the history of the town, the political significance of West Virginia's secession from the state of Virginia on June 20, 1863, or the influence of the agricultural base on the town's economy. It was difficult, but I did try to buck the genetics that are mine. Since I'd like her to come back again, sometime.
She did laugh a little when I muttered about having to wait at a stop sign on Main Street ("This is traffic?"). I keep forgetting that really I'm very lucky in a lot of ways to live where I do. She kept commenting on how green and beautiful everything really is, here. And she's right, it really is. The leaves are only just barely turning yet -- the hills look like bushels of prematurely picked apples; mostly green with some tinges of red and orange at the corners.
Heather had to change planes four times to get here. Four times!! You'd think I lived in Greenland. Then she had to ride three and a half hours in a car to actually get here! How punishing! There is obviously a conspiracy afoot to separate the Texans from the Yanks, is all I can say. Getting to this neck of the woods ought not to be a hurdle race. Honestly. But it is.
I'm just glad she was undaunted. Lifelong friends are hard to find. I'm so glad that she is one of them.
The show itself was incredible, wonderful, exhilarating. For the first time in over eleven years I showed my own work, my very own, no coaching, no instruction, no third-party interference, none. I admit it: I felt like the emerging goddess from Botticelli's Birth of Venus:
..Except, fully clothed and not grabbing my crotch like a rapper.
People actually showed up! And looked at the art! And went on looking at it instead of strolling on through. I couldn't stop watching everyone else -- fascinated by which pieces snagged their attention, wondering what it was they murmured to each other as they stood back analyzing and drinking some information unbeknownst to me out of it. It was as if I'd planted cacti and offered them a hollow tube sharpened at one end with which to tap the fluid. Or maybe that's stretching the metaphor too far. It sure felt like that, though.
Like I'd done something really good.
A woman walked up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for sharing my gift(s). I thanked her back instead of saying "You're welcome," like I was supposed to.
After a while I had to sit down because either it was all going to my head or my blood was pooling to my feet -- one or the other -- but the effect was the same: I felt lightheaded and clammy. It just didn't seem real, not any part of it. Part of me wanted to be so much more in the moment and not racing like a yippy little dog between past, present and future, but I couldn't seem to help it. It was all -- for me -- very, very exciting.
I felt so much gratitude for my friends, my family, for every single person who showed up that surely didn't have to on such a beautiful Sunday afternoon when there is so much in the world to do besides stand here with me.
Monday found me quiet and tired, and Heather and I spent most of it just talking and relaxing. It went by so fast. Before anyone could say how it was Tuesday morning and she was on a plane back home and we were all going back to our everyday, usual lives like nothing too momentous or extraordinary had happened.
Though for me, it really did, because I actually did what I said I wanted to -- I put my artwork out there, and people looked at it, and nothing horrible happened.
Art critics didn't leap like snipers from the bushes and pepper me with rounds of ammunition.
No monoliths rose with a shudder from the ground and split apart the temple with the Also Sprach Zarathustra theme from Space Odyssey 2001 keening menacingly in the background.
It doesn't do any good to ask: Why didn't I do this sooner? (I have a Zen answer: because then wasn't the time.) I had to go through the journey first, maybe like Homer's Odyssey. Or maybe not like the Odyssey, but it seems true that later you come to appreciate the things you might have taken for granted before, were they to come too easily at first: friends, affirmation, opportunities...I kept looking around me all weekend and thinking, I know it's a selfish thought, but I so earned this. And it's true. I really did.
Listening to: Sufjan Stevens, "Springfiel"