The Long Winding Road

Part One — Art Really Is A Jealous Mistress

I love change. I love the fact that I never know what’s around the corner. That each decision I make will change my life in some way.

I changed jobs a lot. I was, among other things, a file clerk, a switchboard operator, a cocktail waitress, a shop clerk, an office manager, a yacht manager (a story for another time), an administrative assistant, and a receptionist.

When it was time to settle on a career, I went to law school and became an attorney. My life as an attorney was not at all like the lawyers I watched on TV. I don’t remember them dealing with timesheets and billable hour requirements that left little room for a life outside the office. But I enjoyed my work. I loved to research the case law and apply it to the facts before me. I researched, wrote opinions, wrote briefs, and advocated in the lower and higher courts for my clients. It was fun, and interesting, and exhausting (ah, those billable hour requirements again).

I sat at a desk all day. I was in my head all day. I needed to balance that out with something physical. So I went to art school and took a metal sculpture and welding class, and a stone carving class.

I flew to North Carolina and took a blacksmithing course. There were twelve of us in the class and we each had our own coal forge. I’m petite and had a tough time keeping up at first, but then I learned how to use the power hammer. It was a magical week. I remember standing next to the hot forge watching the snow fall outside.

I worked at the law firm during the week and I worked on my art on the weekends. It was the perfect balance of mind and body.

But something happened. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that art is a jealous mistress. And he was right. I wanted to spend more time creating art and less time walking the halls of justice. I tried cutting the hours I worked at the firm. And that worked for a time.

Then one day I woke up and before I even got out of bed I made the decision to quit and go full time artist. That very day I walked into the senior partner’s office and resigned. I called a realtor and put my house on the market.

Of course, the next day when I woke up I couldn’t believe what I had done. Really? You’re going to leave the house you love, the career that provides you financial security, your friends, your family, and just take off to parts unknown? Those are the questions I asked myself and expected my friends and family to ask. They didn’t.

If you had asked me why, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. Looking back, it may have been a delayed reaction to the death of my parents, or maybe it was those blasted billable hours. Or maybe it was just that I like change.

Change can be scary. Diving into the unknown is not for everyone. Separating yourself from familiar things, whether it be a job, your house, or your possessions is major. But also, freeing. I hired a mobile shredding company. A large truck sat in my driveway eating up boxes of paper. Old letters, sales receipts, bills, notices, all kinds of paper one accumulates over the years. I watched them all turn into confetti. But wait! What if I got audited and I just shredded my records. Oh well.

I whittled my possessions down to a 10 X 12 storage unit. Only the essentials needed to start a new life in a new place.

My friends threw me a party and asked about my plans. But that’s the thing. I had no plan.

My house sold. I loaded my Xterra with camping equipment, a folding table, several pieces of alabaster, and my stone carving tools. I said goodbye to my friends and family, and drove away.

What was around the next corner?