I’m trying to download the app that goes with the exhibit “Think With Your Hands.” I have been unsuccessful so far.
No matter, I am taken with the art — even without the 3-D animation I can control through the app. If I can download it.
Organizer calendars, the kind kept pre-smart phone, the kind I still keep, filled with images — collage, watercolor, pencil –one for each day for a year. Then for three more. In the fifth year, a commitment to fine-line marker only. The sixth, full-color on both pages of the spread. More than 1,000 images, 1,000 days. ” Los Dias al Reves” — “Inside-out Days” by Pep Carrio.
Frames loaded with seemingly disparate objects, a wooden cut-out of a woman the only constant. Wearing a dress made of Swiss cheese. Sleeping in a horse’s belly. Swimming, torso-less. All arms, legs and head. “Los Suenos de Helena” — “Helena’s Dreams” by Isidro Ferrer.
I am marking my own commitment, my own days — Artist dates, 101 of them today. Swimming toward my own dreams — across the Atlantic, to live and to work.
No husband. No boyfriend. No booty call.
No kids. No pets.
My parents are healthy.
Not even a plant.
If not now, when?
I have been dreaming of living abroad for as long as I can remember. Only really pondering it since my divorce almost three years ago. Seriously considering it since returning from Italy in October.
And now planning it — researching TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses, reading blogs, Skype-ing with friends of friends living and teaching overseas and having coffee with those who once did.
Not so long ago, the only dream receiving this sort of effort and attention was love. I only knew it when it was no longer true — a few months ago, when the Reluctant Shaman came to visit.
The morning he left, we meditated in front of my altar. Then he ran his fingertips from the center of my forehead out to my cheeks — opening my third eye — wrapped his arms around me, kissed the space between my brows and said goodbye.
When he was gone, I lamented that we were only friends.
“He lives in Michigan, you live in Chicago,” I said out loud, to no one.
“His dream is to build a retreat center, yours is to live in Europe.” As the words tumbled from my mouth, I could feel the next ones forming, pushing out, birthing themselves.
“I have a dream bigger than a relationship,” I said, excitedly, repeating the phrase as if to make certain it was so.
It was so. A revelation. A victory.
One that is now being tested — less than three months after my big aha — at Instituto Cervantes, Artist Date 101.
I’m fiddling with the app when a man approaches me.
“Hello,” he says, slipping behind me so I have to turn around to face him. “How are you?”
I search my mental Rolodex, trying to locate him. How do I know this man? Clearly we’ve met. Why else would he stand so close? Act so familiar?
I tell him I am fine and inquire how he is, stalling. He grins at me.
I got nothing.
Finally I ask, “Do I know you?”
“No,” he replies. “I just wanted to meet you and thought I’d say hello.”
This never happens to me.
I laugh at the novelty of his gesture, the simple wisdom in making an introduction to an attractive stranger without premise.
We exchange names and handshakes. He asks what brings me here. I tell him I am moving to Spain.
“I’m not certain yet.”
We talk about Barcelona — Gaudi. The beach. Sagrada Familia. Madrid — The capital. Prado. Picasso’s Guernica. A partner program whereby I can learn Spanish part-time and receive a student visa, allowing me to work legally.
He shakes his head. How can I “just go?” Don’t I have things? Stuff? Property?
“Very little,” I offer. Whittling my life down to two suitcases shouldn’t be too hard — I hope.
He tells me he taught English in France, when he was in his 20s. I am not in my 20s. Not even close.
I smile, thank him for introducing himself, and excuse myself — returning to the exhibit.
I attempt to comprehend the Spanish spoken around me. (I get about one-sixth of it, at best.) And by the artists during their talk, taking off the headset that pipes in translation. (I get even less.) I try to download the app again. I never do.
None of it matters. Only that I “passed.” That I chose a dream bigger than a relationship. That I chose me.
A higher mark than I ever received in high school Spanish class.
Si’, es verdad.
Postscript: Less than 12 hours after my Artist Date, my path became clear. Seven days later, I put down a deposit on coursework in Madrid. I leave July 2015.