Painting - Digital Oils
Copyright 2014 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
I like to think I'm not burdened with a lot of regrets. But when I sit down and actually think back, turning the pages of the book of life front to back, back to front, regrets jump off the page like fleas and cluster thickly in my mind.
One of the regrets that always stands out is that I didn't go out to California as a young woman, when I was free and untrammeled, living my minstrel life. I can only imagine how different the years would've unfolded, and wonder if I would still be living there.
By the time I got out to the Golden State I was married and had a young child. I fell in love with it, especially the area along the coast north of Santa Barbara. When I finally got to San Francisco, I understood why people live there, even with the threat of earthquakes hanging over them. I never wanted to leave, but of course that wasn't possible.
I was brooding on this very subject the other night as I fell asleep, mentally kicking myself for not having explored the west when most of my story was unwritten and open to much more than it is now.
I began to dream. I was back on the road, unafraid to take impulsive turns that led to things impossible to predict. Eventually I found myself sitting in a coffeehouse in San Francisco, reveling in the chatter and movement swirling around me. I swiveled my head this way and that, looking around the room, catching snatches of interesting conversations that I would've liked to join. Next thing I knew someone had pulled a chair over to my table and was sitting next to me. It was Vincent, of all people. He has this habit of finding me in strange places so I wasn't terribly surprised to see him.
"I see you have returned to what you feel is your spiritual home," he said. "I thought I would catch up with you and visit this fabled place I have never been."
"Oh Vincent, how nice to see you. I can't think of a better person to be with in my favorite of all American cities," I replied. "Have you been out and about, exploring?"
"I have," he answered. "And while I have found much to admire, I fear this place is not the Nirvana many people think it is."
"Of course it's not perfect," I retorted somewhat tartly. "For one thing, to live here comfortably one must be damn close to a millionaire, and how many of us can realistically approach that? But I still think, even with all the possible complications and difficulties, I would be happier here than almost anywhere else I can imagine. Of all the cities in the West, it's most like where I come from. They don't call San Francisco the Boston of the West for nothing."
"You have never lived in Boston," Vincent observed.
"True enough. But all of coastal New England shares many similarities. San Francisco gets cold, it has fog and rain, and much of the architecture that has not been replaced with modern structures resembles what I know. And yet there is an openness and freedom here that is unlike any other place I've ever been," I answered.
Vincent nodded. "I will agree with you that for the artist, the writer, the performer, the possibilities here are attractive. But you are where you are for a reason, one that will likely never be revealed. If you are ever meant to be here it will happen."
"I think for me San Francisco is the apple on the tree just out of reach," I replied. "Desired but unattainable."
"I didn't quite tell the truth when I said I had never been here," Vincent confessed. "I hadn't been in San Francisco, but I did wander around a bit on the southern coast of the state on my way here. It felt familiar and foreign all at the same time. So many people in the cities, and such a vast disparity between those who have everything and the many who have little or nothing. But what struck me most was the dryness. The land is dying, there has been no rain. It is worrisome on many levels, not the least of which is that so much of your fruits and vegetables are grown here."
"Yes," I agreed. "The drought has been terrible and shows no signs of letting up."
"I was moved to paint," Vincent continued. "I wanted to do a landscape but visions of dry cracked land, huge houses and the ocean - which is, as you likely know, showing grave signs of pollution - kept getting jumbled in my head. So instead of the landscape I wanted to paint this is what I ended up with."
He reached into his satchel and pulled out a rolled-up sheet of canvas paper. Untying it, he laid it out on the table. I was surprised to see an abstract, done in his familiar style of brushstrokes and colors.
"Vincent, how unusual. I like it, but it's like nothing I've seen you do," I said.
"Yes, I know, but I could not paint a coherent landscape with all the thoughts that were running around in my head. I would start to paint hills and huge houses would sprout. It's a slope downward, the ocean kept intruding, but as you can see I saw it in a sickly shade." He shook his head and sighed.
"Well, it's a fine piece," I assured him again. "It does embody, symbolically, so much of what exists out here."
I reached into my bag for my camera so I could take a picture of this most unusual work. When I had, Vincent smiled and rerolled the painting.
"It doesn't hurt to experiment once in a while," he said. "But I must go, it's getting late. I still feel the urge to paint a landscape but I won't be able to do it here."
"Take care," I said. "I hope we meet again soon."
"I'm sure we shall," he said. "Stop brooding about what you didn't do. Everything unfolds as it should in the fullness of time."
He picked up the satchel and left me sitting there. When I awoke I found myself feeling curiously comforted without knowing why. I wonder what the fullness of time will unfold for me.
~ copyright 2014 RC deWinter
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August 19th, 2014
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