Made it back to the U.S. yesterday. People said that crossing back here would take longer than crossing to Canada, but apparently I'm a bit of a troublemaker. On the way there, Friday night (Later I'll get to why it was nighttime and not, say, 1 pm as planned), weary from the day's events (again, more later), I erred by uncertainly rolling through the checkpoint, I guess I was waiting for someone to stop me but nobody seemed to be around. DId I mention I don't get out of the country much? A border guard comes dashing out, waving his arms, beckons me to the side.
"What was that?" he says indignantly. Me: sheepish. "Sorry, sorry." He inspects my (pristine) passport. "This isn't Europe, where you don't stop. Do you think you are in Europe?"
"No.. I've never driven there.."
"So where are you going?"
"For how long do you plan to stay?"
"A couple days."
"Why do you have so many things?" (nodding at the packed car, paintboxes and canvases, also my broom and shovel, etc)
"I was at an art residency in Vermont for the past month, so I have all these supplies, and since I'm not so far from Montreal, I wanted to visit," I babbled.
"Why do you not leave these things at home?"
"Well I live in New York, and came here right from Vermont, I've been on the road for 5 weeks, so.."
"What will you do there?" "Um, look at art, walk around, take pictures, eat and drink.." "Open the trunk." I open the trunk. Uneventful. "So what is a residency, it is school?"
"Not exactly, it's somewhere you can go for a while that's different from where you live, and you can make art and meet new people," I shrug and smile.
He stares at me blankly, but hands me back my passport. I drive off, the signs turn to French, and an hour later I arrive at the funky hostel in the old part of Montreal where I've arranged to stay. I spend the next couple of days doing pretty much what I told him I would do, things that deserve their own eventual blog post. On the return crossing, I am detained because when I was 11, in England with my parents & brother, we'd reported our passports stolen when my mother's bag was swiped. (I excitedly reported it all in my journal, along with a clumsy pencil illustration of said theft.) We got them back but it remained in the system and they had to make sure I was me. I've had that feeling before.
I got back to upstate NY just in time to return the rental car. Rental car? The short version is that, barely 40 miles out of Johnson, sad to leave VSC but looking forward to Montreal, a loud pow issued from my car and a terrible scraping sound commenced. Fearfully I proceeded to a service station, which I was lucky to find, and discovered that the rear strut had rusted through and essentially dropped onto the tire, and it seemed the other struts/spring thingys weren't far behind, from the looks of them. Fix it or scrap it? Considerations of high cost and advanced mileage (nearly 240) and future problems ensued, accompanied by a series of phone calls, a cab to Burlington, transfer of stuff to rental and a consignment to the salvage yard for the 14-yr-old car. Determined to salvage my trip, I continued north. Fortunately there is still my mom's old car (another Camry in the wings) and the same-age truck I've also been driving, between which I can continue to distribute miles and manage quirks. I fantasize about buying a camper or van to put all my supplies in and travel around the country painting and visiting places, but of course I cannot do such a thing. But I have a bank account that needs replenishing and enough creative ideas to last me for a while, so that will do.
I feel like I am living aspects of my 20s and 30s in reverse, except for the awesome (!) amount of experience and clarity I've amassed in the past decade. In my 20s I felt like having an apartment of my own and being homey, and now I feel like going to see all the places I didn't go because I was choosing to settle in. I'm very happy about the community I found in Beacon, and consider it home more than anyplace else, but I am unsure how to proceed. 34 (or nearly so) simply isn't 24, as far as some life decisions are concerned; at 24 it didn't even feel like some decisions were necessary to make. I was impressed by the 24-yr-olds at VSC, and interested in the paths the older (40s-50s) female residents had taken. All I knew then was that I didn't want to deal with grad school, forms or incurring more loans, I just wanted to get out there, keep learning on my own and incorporate art-making into my life however I could manage. I did do all this, and found that doing it while living in New York City (ah, and having relationships, though THAT is not what this blog's about!) changes the framework of everything.
I think I have reached 100 posts since I began this blog. It seems to have evolved in a more personal direction, but that is perhaps to be expected. I'd planned at first to mostly write what I saw and did and produced during the novelty of the residency stints, but obviously the life and the art and the personal experience are all completely intermingled. Other blogs do such wonderful jobs at gathering and curating external material, that I decided not to focus on that aspect here. Things like that tend to overwhelm me anyway as there is so much to look at, and there are many people who are natural curators and disseminators of information. I have never really defined my format beyond its admittedly self-absorbed slant, but I see it as a kind of ongoing project, and nobody else is going to do it for me. There might be thousands of artist-written blogs, but I can imagine that my own amalgam is vaguely distinct (and I'll close with that fun oxymoron). Here's to the next 100.