The Light

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OK.  This is not going to be about the trip but about why I make the trip.  I am part of an artistic family and I am very visual and verbal.  I have been taken pictures since I was about 10.   My black and white dark room in my home was one of my favorite things in the world.  Now I’m painting because I still have the addiction.  I want to capture the light.  I want to capture and create with it; I want to bend it, enhance it, amplify and surround things in it.  Light is what allows us to see the world and can make anything more beautiful.  Light can be revealing or concealing and it can induce all sorts of emotion.  I admit it.  I’m a light junky.  I want to see everything in any and all kinds of light.  The winter sunset, fleeting and intense is so different from a summer one with its hazy fireball.  The way the sunlight trickles through the trees and leaves pools of brilliant green in the dark woods.  The way the morning sun flows across my backyard, advancing every hour.  The way firelight makes golden planes of faces.

This photograph captures the fading light over the ocean as it creates the colors of steel-blue, pink, orange, gray and deep aqua on the wave rippled sea.  I will paint this some day, when I understand better how to paint light and its effects on the reflective surface of water.  In other words when I can create a painting that is at least one percent as delicate and balanced and truthful and soul filling as this image.   A cell phone photograph is not creating art, but simply finding and recording it, but it gives me a place to start.

Tonight’s Trip Back Here

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We have left There and I am driving back in the late afternoon.  I have driven the parkway and exited near the Mariner’s Museum.  I am past the little trees, the hamlet that nearly burned down, and thankfully most of the traffic has turned off at the first traffic light in 20 miles.   The Pine Barrens stretch in front and behind me without a car in sight.  The forest is dense with nothing but pine trees and an occasional invading oak.  The sun is just low enough to be a bit of a nuisance, with a strobe light effect as I pass the trees  but it’s still not the “golden hour” before sunset, so the light is good and I am taking the Fe through at about 65 mph.   I have passed civilization and even the occasional house, but now there is nothing but forest.   Then, there is a straight bit of road maybe a two-mile stretch and something catches my eye:  a hint to a secret.  A solitary mail box, shiny and proud, sits on top of its post on the side of the road.  I take  my foot off the gas to slow down just a little.  I can see the winding dirt road and I know there is a house at the end of it, but I can’t see it.  It is deep in the woods.  Maybe a lovely log cabin in the woods.  Maybe a family’s home with toys in the front yard, a shed for the lawn mower, a garden of herbs.  Maybe it is just a development house left over from the last big build in the area and someone put three bedrooms and one and half baths out here because they did not like the development.  What kind of house could it be?  Who lives there?  Are there flowers?  Children?  Is it a home or just a house?   The curving dirt road hides all this from me and I know the pines will never tell.  Even in the winter,  the pine forest will be green and secretive.   Now I will look for the mail box every trip.

The Trip

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This blog is about the actual journey There.  It starts usually on Thursday when I  pack and check the red shopping bag I keep hanging on a chair in the living room.  During the week I fill it with the things for the house that I don’t want to forget – a few extra groceries, my casino cards, some photographs to paint from.  Then I pack my clothes, all casual and comfortable.  I use a yarn duffel bag that I bought years ago at a street fair.  It holds alot but is very light.  Thursday nights I usually dream of painting or the ocean.

Friday at work I am in a good mood as I think about my release, my sanity just hours away.  Then, as I leave the office and wish everyone a good weekend, I find myself smiling because I know my weekend is always a mini-vacation.  I pray for light traffic, a prayer which is rarely answered and as I run for my Sante Fe in the parking deck, I call R and try to get him to be ready when I arrive, so all I have to do is make a quick pit stop, load the Fe and leave within 10 minutes.   Another prayer rarely answered but R doesn’t waste time.  He makes us sandwiches so we don’t have to stop, he makes sure everything is locked up and turned off and he is very efficient.  We leave as soon as possible. 

I am driving this Friday night as it is summer and day light savings time right now.  I will probably only be able to drive another 2 or 3 weeks as the days get shorter and my night blindness interferes.  Except for the 10-12 week period when I can drive on Friday night, I grit my teeth or try to sleep when R drives.  His driving is not that bad, I’m just a control freak.   There, I said it.

But for now, I’m driving and as I start to pull away, I coast slowly through our development and say, “do you have your wallet……. your money……..your cards…….. your cell phone………. your keys?” with each question prompting a pat down of all his pockets as I try not to laugh.  As he checks for vital belongings in a deliberate but slightly frantic manner, I keep my eyes on the road, ever mindful that I may need to make a quick U-turn to retrieve the forgotten item. 

Once everything has been located and we are out of the complex and on our way, I mentally say good-bye to the stress of  Here.  Goodbye crazy russian neighbors who live above us and whose daughter thinks she’s a kangaroo.  Goodbye window that needs fixing and carpet that needs cleaning.  Goodbye crazy, and somewhat needy family members who know not to call unless someone is in the hospital, in jail or dead…. no, really… that’s what I have told them all.   Goodbye to commuting, to the five and a half attorneys that I support in that God-forsaken City of New York. 

I’m on my way There.

Travels

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Honestly, I don’t expect anyone to read this.  It is about the weekly two-hour journey from my weekday home (“Here”) to my weekend home which I have nicknamed “There” and back again.  The trip takes me through horse country, rural South Jersey, the Pine Barrens and other places I have grown quite attached to. 

Here’s the back story.  In April 2006, my husband and I finally bought the second home that I had been praying for.  It took nearly 10 years to convince him but he finally understood that it would be a good investment, someplace to relax and a way to make me very happy.  About six months after we closed, the housing market crashed,  just the way it did six months after we purchased our first home.  Because we plan to keep the second home for a while, the market doesn’t matter. 

There is a townhouse, about 1500 square feet with 2 master bedrooms each with their own bathroom.  Downstairs is a small eat in kitchen and a living/dining room combination.  The sliding doors take up the whole back wall and outside is a 10 x 15 ft. cement patio, and then about 20 feet of grass and then a pair of paver patios built at the edge of the woods.  On one is a wooden park bench.   The pale mint greens and soft blues were lovingly chosen for a bright calmness.  Downstairs the artwork is all woods and trees, save for my little niche of paintings.  Upstairs is dedicated to the sea, with lighthouses, shells, photographs and paintings of crashing waves and serene beaches.

My flowers and gardens, the patios, the squirrels, the birds, the trees have been my salvation and sanity.  I sit on the bench, tilt my head back, listen to the wind chimes and watch the trees sway.  I am at peace. 

Twenty minutes from There is the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic City.  I watch the ocean waves and the people on the boardwalk and the children  in the sand and I feel healthy, strong and whole.

My husband, R, enjoys being There, but not as much as I do.  For him it’s a place and not a dream.  My best friend, W, probably loves There as much as I do and it was he who put his blood and sweat into so many of the improvements we made.  W and I built the paver patios.  We moved about a ton of paver stones, bags of top soil, bags of pebbles, lumber and sand.  We built the patios in a weekend.  It was probably the most difficult thing I ever did physically.   Every year W and I go on Easter weekend for the spring planting.  I plan for weeks what we are going to buy and what plants we are going to replace. 

W is going to retire at least part-time at the end of the year.  I am hoping he spends more time There, with or without me.