When is a friend like a mentor? Yesterday, I talked about what drives us to do things, and as artists, what we need to do to create enough impetus to let ourselves go. How that makes us feel a little nutty. The thing about friends, is that we get each other's passions without living them ourselves. Colleen helps me see and I hope I help her see... she tells me about three dreams she had in a row and, because I know her, have known her for 22 years, the symbolism seems like writing on a wall when she has no idea. Ditto back, all morning, her pulling back the veil. A wise and gentle teaching, clarity.
Colleen says that one of my defining characteristics is gone. Ever since she met me, under all the faces I put on, there has been a slight buzzing tension. She said it is like the rubberband has been released. And that was exactly what I was feeling all day yesterday, as if all the knots slipped back into the ether. I am not getting too set on the metaphor being permanent, but it is still here today... no more buzzing. It has something to do with the drive, being behind the wheel, going forward.
So it is 1:46, we just got out of our jammies and showered, and are going to roam downtown Northfield. A great thing about this trip is understanding and building a new mind map. For example, I had seen pictures of her new house, but to see her in her space is to understand her at a deeper level. There are two colleges here, St Olaf's and Carlton, right in town. I'd heard of them, but never really knew where they were. On the way in to town, up highway 35, I saw a Mayo Clinic building. The Malt-O Meal factory is here and occassionally the air smells like cinnamon toast. Amazing.
I was going to choose a word like talk (which we have not stopped doing) or play (since art is a serious form, and also I have a day to stop and play), but I began thinking of what it really meant, our sharing. She is 7 years older than me and sometimes decades wiser. And has had ten times harder hills to climb. In thinking about how she was like an advisor, an older sister, I remembered Barbara. I lost my Chicago airbnb reservation yesterday, and have now decided to go against my first choice (which was to skip the loop), and drive straight to the heart of it. Every time I've been to the city, I have gone to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and every time I visit a favorite painting in the permanent collection. I do that other places too, like a talisman. This time I was going to avoid it but now I know I have to go.
Barbara DeGenivieve taught there since maybe 1994. Before that, she did a short stint at San Jose State and I met her there during the last bits of my undergraduate degree program. She was fearless, an inspiration, and a nagging voice in my head. When she died last fall, I went to a memorial in October that changed my life. So I need to go back, a pilgimmage, and say thanks. Maybe just touch the stones she walked on and give gratitude silently for helping me remember to be authentic and real, to use my voice, be fearless. Live.
By the way, here is my friend. We went downtown so she could try on glasses and we could walk around the quaint streets and shops. We must have tried on glasses together for half an hour, the saleswomen were such good sports. Every time Colleen would try on a pair, she'd pull her hair up in a bun so she could see how it looked and we were cracking up about needing two pairs of glasses, one for hair down and one up. So the saleswoman took a picture, hair up. There was a point today we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. Good times...