Last week marked Artist Date 75. I didn’t go.
I didn’t even pretend to go. Or to dress up what I did do instead, like the way I used to dress up my alcoholism. Wrap it up in trips to wine country and witty repartee with vintners and sommeliers only to be told by a stranger in no uncertain terms that wine aficionado is just a fancy word for a drunk.
No, I didn’t pretend that a day at home cooking constituted an Artist Date. (Although it might have.) Or that the date I had with my friend Clover before she gave birth to Juniper Maya, thus setting her life on a wildly new trajectory, somehow counted either.
My friend Lynn told me this would happen eventually.
I recognized that my process — the weekly Artist Date — had become a practice. And that it had unintentionally given a sub-theme and a structure to my blog, and the story of returning to myself post-divorce.
She said there would be weeks that I wouldn’t go, or that I wouldn’t blog. And that those experiences would be worthy of words too.
So here they are. Without apology.
It is both a relief and a disappointment.
Friday afternoon Pam asks me about my weekend plans.
Party. Haircut. Client.
Weight Watchers. Dance. Church basement.
I confess I am not sure where or how or if I might squeeze in my Artist Date.
“You can’t always be prolific,” she replies.
Somehow I think the rules don’t apply to me. That I should be above them. Better than that. Less than human.
That if I make a commitment, I have to stick to it. Period. Which is ironic as I am greatly irritated when held to words I ostensibly said 20-plus years ago – possibly in a blackout.
I come home from work feeling tired, overwhelmed and jangly. At a friend’s suggestion, I call the hostess and offer my regrets – letting her know I will not be able to attend. I tell her the truth, which she not only understands but supports.
It occurs to me that perhaps I am the only one keeping score.
The next day my client cancels. The day prior, my own massage is canceled too.
It feels like a message from the universe. All of it. Slow down. Lie down. Say no.
Stay home. Pay some bills. Write.
Ride your bike. Go thrifting with a girlfriend. Eat gelato for no other reason than it is sunny and more than 70 degrees.
Be less frantic.
Make room for nothing.
I remember being an editor at the college newspaper when the Gulf War broke out. The entire staff gathered around the small television precariously placed on top of a metal file cabinet in the back of the newsroom, watching CNN.
We are too young to remember Vietnam. We have not lived through a war.
We dispatch the writers and photographers on to campus to capture the mood and the moment. In the newsroom, we debate our position and how we will represent it on the Opinion Page, of which I am the editor.
We consider blacking out the entire page – as it was rumored our predecessors had done when the United States put troops in Vietnam.
Instead we run a single photograph taken that evening – a student sitting cross-legged, lighting a candle. In prayer and hope, I imagine.
I think about that big black page as I begin writing today. Of darkness. Nothingness. And the statement it made.
I don’t have a statement to make. My lack of Artist Date just isn’t that important. The only war going on is inside of me. The only dying off I need consider is that of old ideas.
I decide the absence of Artist Date 75, and the absence of spin or excuse, might serve as a metaphoric kindling of light. A prayer and a hope that I might quit keeping score. That I might continue to make room for nothing. That I might allow myself the space to change my mind. And to be gloriously, imperfectly human.