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Thursday, August 26

flying solo

My last Summer show of the year, one of my very favorites, is this weekend. It's a pretty important one because the quality of our upcoming vacation depends on how well it goes. We will either be spending nights at the local Best Western or in the back of the van! Such is the life of someone who earns her living without any guarantees.

This show, The Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, happens just blocks from my front door and it celebrates the neighborhood I love. It started about 10 years ago, very informally. I got a call at work from an artist friend who asked if I wanted to do a new show. One day. In the neighborhood. Oh, sure. There is a conventional wisdom that you never do a new show in its first year, but since it was local and being organized by people I knew and liked, I went for it. Besides, I was pretty new at the game myself back then. From the first year, this was a show to love and I have been lucky enough to be able to do it every year since.

But this year there is a glitch. Russell, my partner in love and life and art will not be here. He works with Veterans for Peace and their convention is this same weekend in Maine. There was no thought of asking him to stay here, the cause is too dear to his heart, too important. So, it will be me running the show, alone, for the first time.

Lots of people do shows alone. Men, women, older, younger, schlepping and toting and building and selling, smiles on their faces, no pity asked. I am not one of those people. I like that Russell takes charge of the heavy lifting. That he figures out how to secure stuff using basic physics. I love that he takes care of me, telling me to sit and relax while he totes heavy equipment to the van or puts the sides up on the tent. I am loved and spoiled and I am thankful for that every day.

Now, I am not old and helpless. Well, I'm not helpless. But years of paper making and book binding have left me with hands that no longer have simple strengths. I now understand how to set up the Craft Hut, but I have trouble doing simple tasks, like securing the metal poles inside each other. I am also not a strong person. Some of the heavy lifting is just beyond my physical ability. I could do the show alone, but how could I set it up?

Enter another blessing of my life.

I love my neighbors so much that I have actually rerun the events that led us to be living next to them in my head and determined it was preordained. :) Marie and Jolene grew up together, moved to NY together, saw each other through triumphs and tragedies and bad marriages and love affairs good and bad, remaining best friends despite it all. There is a lot of story there, but not mine to tell. They are amazing women. Beautiful, funny, smart as hell, brave and real.

These are the kind of neighbors you trust with keys to your house and car, as well as with your truths. They are there for you. To watch the dog or call a plumber or hold your hand or offer a cold beer on a hot night. So, it was that Jolene said "I'll help!"

Are you sure? I asked. Hell, yeah. she answered. I'm strong.

That's what Russell said about her: she's strong. I always knew that, but I wasn't thinking physically. :)

And so it is that Saturday morning I will be the one to remember just how that rod secures the shelves and how the weights get strapped on. Jolene and I in the dewy early morning, muttering and cursing, I'm sure. Laughing, too. I bet. The Craft Hut is taking a break. The forecast is for perfect weather, so the little popup will be the shelter of choice, saving us a lot of construction time.

A few minutes ago, I was chatting with Jolene and her son, Joseph as they waited for their transportation to go out on a boat ride. We laughed and sang Janis Joplin and she offered to help me starting tomorrow if I needed anything. I came back in and the phone was ringing. Russell checking in with love words, stories of the beautiful people he is meeting, his voice happy and true.

It is a beautiful morning, cool and sunny, the grass and flowers shining from last night's rain. There is a sense of our little world being in sync today, all of us engaged in lovely things separately but connected to each other by love and circumstance and my heart is so full.

My blog post says "flying solo". But that's not true. That's not true at all.


Stefani said...

You just get more and more interestesting to me, Pat. I'm starting to guess we might be around the same age. It's fun getting to know you through your blog.

And now . . . I notice that Quincy has a blog!? I'm a late-to-the-party dog lover. We love our beagle, Reggi, to pieces. We have 2 cats too - we love them too but the return on investment is much greater with a dog, as you well know.

Good luck this weekend!

Terry said...

Betty and I are in booth #3 near West Ferry - when I am done cursing at our set up I would be glad to help you as well if you need me.. Terry

marie.bonacci said...

Takes one to know one.