My art studio was less than a year old. I hired men to build the shell, but I did the inside, installing the insulation, the luan plywood walls, the wood burning stove, the cabinets and sink. My father, who had died twelve years earlier, taught me those skills when I was a girl. In this, my private space, I wore his canvas belt and used his old tools, measuring and marking the cutouts for the table-level electrical outlets, kicking the bottom of the walls with the back of my work boots to ensure they were to the bottom two by fours, before nailing them to the vertical studs.
I loved the solid feel of his claw hammer. The grip was large and worn. It fit, somehow. I was comforted. Dad was in that art studio with me.
As I used his circular saw, he whispered warnings, “Careful, it’s gonna kick on ya.”
He repeated that over and over again until finally, I said aloud, all alone and chuckling, “Ok! I hear you! But, tell me how or why it’s going to kick on me.”
Just at that moment, that old saw stuck in the wood and jerked back hard towards me. Thin, dry sawdust flew up my nose. I choked. The scorched smell strengthen my memory.
“Oh, I remember...keep pushing the saw all the way through to the very end of the wood! Thanks, Dad.”
I heard my father and felt his presence everyday, all day in that studio. It was a beautiful experience that conjured up long forgotten memories. The studio served both as an escape from the realities of an unhappy marriage and an adventure back to my innocent, youthful, hard working tomboy days, alongside my father. I was blessed to have my father’s spirit and those warm memories with me in my studio.
Our social life in Jersey was always tinged with angst, given the relationship with my husband. Still, I enjoyed my friends. They were interesting and fun, plus I admired their commitment to the college and the community. We traveled together, discussed important topics over fine dining at the best restaurants, and celebrated holidays, side by side. Because of their relationship to my husband and the college, unpleasant or not, my private life was private and I kept it so. My biggest sorrow was that I couldn’t tell them goodbye. I knew my secret departure would be offensive to them. I cried.
I also grieved when I was forced to leave my Sam and Dr. Cat behind because I couldn’t find lodging that would permit animals.
After a failed marriage, it is pretty easy to seal off any interest in the opposite sex. Triple that when you are hitting sixty and living on a small island. Time is short for that sort of thing and available men are virtually nil.
As it turns out, though, my new, single life was filled with tennis, art, reading, writing, traveling, spiritual growth, the internet, my new puppy, and my family and friends. Life was good.
Correction: My life was magic.
Of all the unmarried and unattached women I know, most seek out relationships. As for me, I don’t have time, nor do I care to search. Been there, done that. I’m pretty good at everything I do, except, perhaps romantic relationships.
Somehow, I chose the men who were limited in their abilities to demonstrate that they value a woman, or me! However, lately, I’ve given myself somewhat of a pass and decided, “No, that’s not quite right. I allowed men who were limited, bless their hearts, to chose me!”
Well, those days are over and good riddance, I say! I’m too busy being happy!
The Camera Man and Other Relationship Revelations: A Short Story
Chapter Two: My Art Studio Was Less Than a Year Old.
Click HERE for Chapter Three: I Am Passionate About Passion.