I am so amazed by all she was able to do and the beauty she was able to create. There is one specific conversation that stands out for me that occurred between the two of us one cloudy Wednesday evening. We were over near the ovens, I watched as she molded white clay and explained to me the tender connection she had of the chalk portraits she had done of her daughter. They were on display to hopefully be sold. She expressed that she sells the portraits to make a living and stated strongly that the money didn’t matter to her. She disclaimed that the most precious thing to her was her daughter, but went on to say that her life is not about living in a house, not about driving cars. It was not about the clothes she could buy or the places she could travel. Her life was and still is simply art. That was all she needed. That was all she ever wanted. With a tone of humble honesty she explained, that there were years where in total she wouldn’t make more than 5,000 dollars total. There were years when she did very well and could save for all future expenses. Her life was up and down. This was the kind of life she had to expect. She pointed to one of my drawings and said that she could tell I was the same way "for people like us,” she said, “art is all that matters. It won’t change us if we can’t pay the bills of live conventional lives; because if ever there was a time when we were forced to discontinue our creation it would simply be impossible for us to continue living. Art is living. Nothing else matters, because anything else is death.”
I felt slightly guilty that she included me so strongly her ideals. At the time I felt art wasn’t my life. With a narrow mind I didn’t include music or acting as any kind of art form. My shallow teenage soul put labels on everything. Everything fell into categories. Foolishly I thought only pen and paper artists were artist. I also knew that the most important things in my life at the time were my boyfriend and the future I planned for us. Every bit of my happiness relied on a good outcome for the two of us. I admired her dedication to the craft and wished that someday I could feel as certain about what I needed to keep me going.
years later I learned that the last year and a half of my relationship with high school sweet heart was only running on the hype and anxious promises I made as I clung to something I thought would make me happy I didn’t realize that the future I was creating was not my future. In the life I had built up for myself there was in fact no place for me at all. Every ounce of it was about "us". When I finally had the courage to leave the relationship, I realized I was left with nearly nothing. All of my life for the past three years had been composed of planning things that never even happened, things that were way off in the future, and I was constantly relying on someone else to spend time with. I didn’t have any hobbies. I never did anything alone. Eventually I realized I didn’t really know who I was or what I liked, having focused so many of my growing years on what “we” liked.