It was the cusp of the full moon yesterday and the world turned on end as eighth grade came rushing back at me. Like origami my past folded onto my present and I was overwhelmed with emotion, realizing that my feelings about myself and what I want have not really changed at all.
Both love and friendship were catalysts for a prolific gush of creativity... poems, art, dance, short stories. It felt like our little group of friends, our clique, could accomplish anything if we wanted to. We were a nice balance of left and right brained, brilliant, creative, compassionate adults in young bodies just waiting to bloom.
For years I have wondered what happened to those friends... their creativity, brilliance, potential. I know what happened to mine. I found religion and left those friends on a tangent for decades, focusing all of my creativity and emotion on a new group of friends that shared that common bond. I was sincere... but as I embraced more and more doctrine I became more and more self-involved and self-righteous. Eventually, like the stock markets or a Ponzi scheme, my devotion to being right eclipsed my ability to love unconditionally (which religion is supposed to be about) and that phase of my life ended in a humiliating realization of my hypocrisy. I am thankful for that painful awakening because in that reality I came back to myself - free of goodness by association - and any good I do became my own responsibility once again.
So now, here I am, post religion, looking back at pre-religion... 6th, 7th, 8th grade... because yesterday I saw, for the first time, the faces of my best friends from that period on facebook. My one friend, Roma, has remained an artist. At one moment in time we were sister artists, but I left that faith to pursue another and now I find myself longing to reconnect with that part of my life. Her work, as she describes it on her website (www.romadevanbu.com) is an expression of the many levels of our experience - how the physical, emotional, spiritual - memories, wishes, dreams - all intersect. I am experiencing this in my life - my past dreams and ambitions becoming almost tactile. Seeing Roma's work stirs a longing in me to discover exactly what all of the years of child raising, devotion to my career, relationships, and struggle could precipitate in my art, given the chance.
I am out of work, and struggling with how to proceed in my career. Not having a bachelor's degree is much more of a deal-breaker now than ever. Employers with a stack of 150 resumes for one position look for easy eliminators and filter applications by eliminating contenders without a degree. I am contacting the Hartford Art School to explore what options are open to me to complete my last 30 credits and hoping to take just one semester in residence there to reconnect with my art as I accomplish this pragmatic goal.
Who am I as an artist? I am the mother of six. I am a marketing director. I am a lover. I am a teacher. I am a philosopher and poet. Who am I as an artist? I am a woman who has lived three lifetimes of pain and joy, just like many others, but who may yet have the opportunity to provide wisdom, solace, direction, and encouragement to others on their own difficult road. It sounds self-righteous to want to help others with my visual and verbal communications. I'm not sure what to make of that. But I do see my own six children forming lives that satisfy and fulfill them... I see them struggling, working, and sacrificing to make that happen for themselves... and I can't help being amazed that it took so many decades to realize that this is so very worth the struggle to have for myself as well.
Thank-you, Roma, for remaining true to your vision as I took a detour from mine. Thank-you Ruth for bringing Roma back into my awareness. Thank-you Annie for finding me. I cannot wait to discover what your life has evolved into. And thank-you moon for pulling them back to me on one very emotionally charged day, March 10th, 2009.