Monday, June 17, 2013

Lush with Potential

Thick dark pens, rows of them lined up according to fine or broad stroke, to color, to permanence. Rulers, lots of them, and watercolors and colored pencils the likes of which my aunt used to ferry back and forth from Europe to delight me as a child. White paper, tracing paper, rough sketch paper bound up in books for one's pocket. Tools for the hands, making visible ways of seeing with eyes that are fresh and new, untrained and excited, quiet.

I remember watching Nick build his store of art supplies for his foray into the study of landscape architecture. I was envious of his haul, of the boxes that would arrive daily from Dick Blick, reminding me of my highschool years where I would buy paint tubes upon pens upon sketch books just simply to have them nearby. I was never an actual artist, my fear of muddling the page or of looking foolish thwarting any desire I had to create something beautiful and meaningful. So the supplies sat on the shelf until they dried up or were given away. I watched in those months as Nick's natural talent emerged, his careful hand and attention to detail producing draft upon draft of spaces rich with meaning and lush with potential.

This Fall I begin a program of making, in a sense, having been accepted to a Masters in Design Methods program that will take me every other weekend to Chicago. I'm nervous, having been on my back foot for the past few months doing work that is not my strong suit and looking to a future where I have to take the pen to the page to create in a way beyond words.

The months leading up to this program are also a study in stillness, of seeing, of quiet, of reflection and introspection and all of those things you don't get to do when you are caught up in family and life and clutter and the distance that can separate you from your true self. I have been given the gift of time and space to sort things out. I have been given the opportunity to peel back through some blank pages and search for the words written in invisible ink underneath. It's beautiful and weird and heartbreakingly thanks-giving at the same time. I am awash in tears at the generosity of it all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Today is one of those days that social media kicks your ass. Smiling faces of fathers beaming out of pictures with their children, grandchildren, exotic locales, dinner tables, weddings, you name it. I know there are a million stories behind those smiles, not all of them pleasant and certainly not all of them oft repeated in family conversations, but they are there, those fathers who still get to hug children and cook steaks and dance that awkward dad dance when they've had too much scotch.

After the great loss of 1987, I used to call my mom on Father's Day, just to be funny and say thanks for shoring up the ship on both sides. My mom was a helluva single mom, although calling her that seems weird given she had the means to raise children without financial panic. But digging deeper, I realize that being a single mom means much more than financial security. It was her going it alone, dealing with children who weren't easy to manage in a life too lonely sometimes. Single parenthood was more about relying on the network of friends who loved her dearly for moment of confiding and support. It was about being the rock for four kids who were navigating the terrain of being fatherless far earlier than they ever meant to be. She was dad and mom in one, Suz Hard as Nails. And a damn good both at that.

My children delight in their father, an amazing man whose gift for parenting is something he inherited from his own father and from whom I hope my son will learn. This is a day for recognizing that, rather than sitting afloat in the unanchored waters of a parentless life.