Thursday, October 9, 2014
Inch Thirty-Three: Art
Some years ago, someone asked me the following question: If I had extra money, what would I spend it on?
This individual's tastes ran towards the luxurious: many meals in expensive restaurants, travel to exotic parts of the world, pricey events (sports, theatre, music), and lots (and lots) of clothing purchases.
In short, not a lifestyle I could even begin to understand, let alone appreciate.
In retrospect, I realize now that the question was posed a bit cruelly. The inquisitor was trying to make me acknowledge the spareness of my lifestyle. What was really at the heart of the question was this: Come on, April, admit you'd like to live a more comfortable lifestyle, but you just can't afford it, so you just pretend you aren't interested.
I didn't rise to the bait, even when the followup comment was along the lines of did I ever think about being more ambitious and earning more income? Expensive meals, box seats for the Broadway touring company, splashy high dollar events for this or that campaign or cause—none of it appealed to me.
My answer, more or less, was that if I had "extra" money, I'd give more to causes I cared about. And if I had an indulgence, it would be to buy some art. Not drop a bundle, but occasionally buy a piece that I really liked.
Many years later, my answer remains pretty much the same. Now that my income has stabilized (thanks in part to great health insurance), I do have a little more money. I do donate here and there to causes I care about. I do have a little more breathing room on the budget than I used to.
But what about that art?
Last week I was sitting with a friend in one of our downtown coffee shops. High on the wall I was facing, up above a cupboard full of teas, half hidden by the cupboard's crown, was a painting I could not stop staring at.
The artist is local and her work hangs on all of the shop's walls. She paints on a crumpled surface: water colors on thick paper? I don't know. I can't tell. Her pictures are simple: a boot, a rooster, a beach scene, a dandelion puff.
And a sunset of gold and white. Over the marshes, over an ocean, over a prairie lake. Somewhere.
My eyes kept going to the painting. Before I left the shop, I looked to make sure it did not have a "Sold" sticker on it. It did not.
I came home later that day and told Warren I was buying a painting the next time I went there for coffee. I tried to describe it and gave up. He raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything else. We have been together a long time and Warren is accustomed to offbeat comments about a bit of poetry, the Wizard of Oz, and other odds and ends. So now April's buying a picture she can't describe? Okay.
I was back today to meet another friend. After she left, I went up to the cash register.
"I want to buy one of the paintings," I said, my heart thumping in anticipation.
"The one on that wall." Pointing.
The owner's face broke into a smile. "Oh, I love that one."
Five minutes later, I was on my way out the door, the painting in my hands.
Right now all of our first floor walls are bare, stripped last spring in the rush of renovations before Ramona arrived. As I write this, the painting is propped up on the sofa and I am sitting directly across from it.
It was a splurge, a $70.00 splurge. That is a little more than one month's water bill, a little more than two months of Revlimid.
A little splurge. And a whole lot of joy.