The Storm

Back in the studio.  

My neighbor waved over to me the other day while I was outside, collecting firewood.  

"Wie gots?" she asked, her local dialect altering the German wie geht es greeting.  How's it going, she wanted to know. 

We would have needed two bottles of wine and more than a box of tissues for me to sufficiently address the question, but instead I went with the decidedly American "Gut."  I'm fine.  Really.  

Oh, bullshit.

None of it has to do with her, or the fields of blue white snow that stretch in every direction, ending only when the black pine woodland begins.  I am grateful for all of that.  My neighbor is a salt of the earth kind of woman; she shovels her own snow and moves her horses from pasture to pasture every day before hiking her six kilometers in the Black Forest.  It's only when you look at her closely that you see the deep lines in her smiling face, or the scar that runs from the middle of her neck down to below where you can see, telling nuances of her life's story.  

I'm very happy to have a neighbor like her; one who takes things at face value and doesn't bother judging.  

I'm also happy she has horses, because they make me laugh. When I walk outside, one of them always makes herself known by walking to the gate and staring at me until the other follows suit. They have me well trained, seeming one hundred percent certain that there is a carrot in each of my pockets.  

No, that's all good.  The storm is inside of me, not in the bucolic village of two hundred year old timber frame houses I live in. The storm is a silent one; it rages and recedes, knocking me flat and then allowing me brief respite in its eye, only to hit me again, twice as hard. 

This is happening because I'm creating again, for the first time in a very long time. It started with the writing and research for my upcoming class on resilience the first week of January and its door got blasted open with the arrival of clay and art supplies a few weeks later. 

I advance with caution, allow grandiose thoughts at times and retreat in horror at my own arrogance at others.  I love my work one day and detest it the next.  This is my process. I know it; it doesn't shock me. It always gets me where I need to be.  But it's a stunning wake up call because I have not gone through a real creative bender in a very long time. 

I swear to God, I forgot about all this during the last year.  All I've been focused on is not falling through the cracks and changing countries and bureaucratic garbage and getting rid of my shit and getting new shit and getting off of the anti-depressants that kept me afloat through selling the project that represented my life's work and my dog Max dying right after that. When I came off of the drugs, after only eight months on them, I realized how much they had robbed from me in exchange for keeping me alive.  A deal with the devil, those mother fuckers are. 

When I got back my ability to cry, I also got back giving a shit.  And with giving a shit came the desire to show why. Enter stage right creativity. 

Max died just as we were shifting from life in Italy to life in Germany.  He was our companion and guide for the last life. He let us move foward into our new life, knowing his work here was done.

I cried for weeks in October although my Max died in June. When I could finally feel again, I ran through the woods and screamed in complete and utter despair.  I thanked Source that I had been drugged when he died, because I really don't know how I would have gotten through leaving a project that had literally taken everything out of me as the farm in Italy had plus losing the creature that had kept me going while everything was being taken out of me.  In October, completely sober and without anything to delay or numb the pain, I felt like my guts were turning inside out.  

But I knew that I had to swim in those waters.  I had to let myself feel it all if I were to move forward in this drastically new life at the age of 56.  I had to let Maxie go and allow space for whatever was coming my way. 

I counted my blessings:  a husband with whom I enjoy a mutual adoration society.  A house that presented itself to me in the most magical of ways - by mistake - making me bless happy accidents.  An aging mother that stayed healthy while this craziness happened in my life, allowing me to live it out and get better to be strong for her when she needs it.  That I have been given a place of complete quiet to be able to hear my own voice again as it has grown from chortling  to monstrous. 

All the goodness that had been laid at my feet didn't stop my need to enter my own creativity pool from the deep end.  I knew what I had inside of me, and I knew that in order to stay healthy, there was a long swim ahead.  

So here I am.  Swimming, treading, fearing, swimming once more.  

My neighbor told me that there was someone in the village that had taken a course at night school to do pottery and if I wouldn't mind letting her fire a piece or two in my kiln.  Word had gotten around that I was opening a studio.  

I gasped.  My new start had made it through the village gossip round.  It must be real, then. Recovering, I smiled and said, "Sure."  

She smiled.  "Dass ist ja guuuet".  That's good, she said, and that she'd let her friend with the pottery pieces know.  

Even as the river rages on between my own ears, I see myself opening my door to a lady with a bowl in her hand,  welcoming her to enjoy a cup of tea in my own workspace.  I take her bowl and place it in my kiln.  

That thought comforts me to no end, and makes me feel the storm will subside. 

My first piece of this new phase a mixed media collage, is entitled Ti Aspetto (I'm waiting for you).  It's me opening the door to my own creativity.  She's an old friend.  A moody old bitch, but I sure do love her.  

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