The Artist Date is a dream-child of Julia Cameron. We’ve discussed her book, The Artist’s Way, and highly recommend both the book and the weekly date. It can be life-changing. It can open your creativity like nothing else. This week, we’re walking down Kisco Avenue, turning left onto Preston, then coming full circle.
You did not think you could make a mistake with an Artist Date.
Go anywhere. Explore. Take time.
You drop your Volvo at the dealer and quickly eat the yogurt, granola and strawberries you’d packed to hold you for this excursion. The morning is yours.
Kisco Avenue is cars and more cars, but you have a sidewalk, so you feel safe. A half-eaten poppy seed bagel in the grass makes you look away. Discarded food makes you mildly nauseous, especially when it shows up where it doesn’t belong. Grass, dandelions, bitten bagel with cream cheese. Look away, look away. You do.
At the corner of 212 Kisco, you turn left onto Preston. This should take you somewhere. Maybe you can buy a sketchbook at some little shop in town. Over the bridge, you see a Target. That should be alright. You can even purchase some camis for your daughters. The girls are in need.
Enormous red balls, like fake exercise-horse-bouncy-balls sit in front of the huge tan store with its red bulls-eye symbol. They look stuck. Heavy. Wrong.
Inside the store, you secure a very large red shopping cart. You wheel it past bathing suits that feel too thin and plastic under your fingertips. You coast to the girls’ clothing section and put some white, pink, and lavender camis into the cart. They look rough and insubstantial. You circle around the popsicle-colored underwear and socks, noting a proliferation of stripes and polka dots, and find yourself back at the camis, where you return your selection to the metal hook.
Office supplies. Maybe a sketchbook there?
Everything is bright, as you walk and try to ignore the loud music. You find yourself humming the song in spite of yourself, in spite of how it is actually annoying you. Lime green, neon orange, hot pink. Colors everywhere. You remember your eldest girl’s first trip to the eye doctor and how she hung back at the door. “It’s too bright, ” she’d said. And then, inside, looking at the too-big, too-happy paintings on the walls, “I don’t trust this place! I want to go home!”
Forget the sketchbook. You turn your cart suddenly towards the cashier section of the store. Must go. Must leave now. You ditch the cart and take note that the exit doors say, “In case of emergency, push doors.”
More cars, more cars. You walk to Route 117. More cars! Whoosh! Whoosh! Something that is trying to be a stream is down the embankment to your right. It winds its garish blue-green self through skunk cabbage, past a few yellow flowers. A cobalt blue bottle is in the mud and a chain-link fence, rusty and layered with dirt.
For the next 20 minutes, you will make your way back to the car dealer, past The Love Café, Little Shop of Spices, Annie Sez and Party City. You will hold a pink bloom you plucked near the trying-to-be-a-stream. It will be soft in your fingers. It will be something. But you will feel like you had to fight for it. Yes, that seems dramatic to you now, but you can remember the tiny softness in your fingers and the way the world felt out of place. You will remember telling Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, as you crossed the bridge over the tracks, that you need not to open the window but to close it. It’s okay, Susan, you had wanted to say. I like your metaphor, but right now I need the reverse.
Almost there. You’ve come full circle back to Kisco Avenue. You’ve got your epiphany about closing the window. You’ve passed the big white church that says, “St. Francis African Methodist Episcopal Zion. Founded in 1504.” The half-eaten bagel is still in the grass. An empty silver can of Coors Light is there now too, or maybe it always was.
Close the window.
You are doing that inside yourself. You notice a patch of brass-copper mushrooms that have made their space in the grass. They are round and whole. A little universe of mushrooms. You love the feel of them under your fingers. Their roundness, their completeness. You cannot wait to get home.
Photo by JohnGoode. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing
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….and yet this story feels open as that window is closed as it leads me anyway….
ans what IS with the big red balls, they bother me when I notice them and I try not to notice them I suppose… window closed.
And this place calle Kisco Avenue- I wonder if I know it. I wonder if I’ve travelled this road, wirpth the window closed, trying not to get too used to this place at the end of a very long road, every 28 days for over two years….
….and it shows me another way of seeing the expression about when one window closes another one opens…
And I’m glad you found pink petals and mushrooms to soften your day. 🙂
L. L. Barkat says
what is this place called Kisco Avenue that you’ve been traveling, Donna?
On re-reading, I am struck by the line about the avenue having cars and more cars but we feel safe somehow because we have a sidewalk. That is a false safety, isn’t it.
Thanks for your joy over the pink petals and the whole universe of mushrooms 🙂
I guess we are only really safe in our souls; all the rest is by degrees and so i suppose I prefer a sidewalk to the close rush of cars all sharing (or not sharing) the same space for walking :). I’ve thought a lot about safety lately and this is where I am with it.
and Kisco is the name of the town (Mt Kisco) where my husband took me every 4 weeks for more than two years to see a life saving doctor… so the name strikes me, and as you describe YOUR Kisco i tried to remember this place…. it strikes me that the only memory I have seen fit to hold on to are of his office and of the diner that turned these excursions into a date. 😉
And maybe it’s because it is raining, but I’m sure I smell those mushrooms!
…and is a window ever really closed?
Maureen Doallas says
There are so many reasons I don’t go to malls. You’ve found and described them perfectly.
L. L. Barkat says
Ah, yes, Maureen. How many people don’t like malls either but maybe don’t know.
Megan Willome says
So, a somewhat failed artist date that ultimately, did not fail. Sounds about right.
And how can there be an AME church from 1504?
L. L. Barkat says
Heh. Well, yes. We can always do something with what we’ve got, even if it’s dismal. This is the power of art.
I thought that sign on the church was so funny. How can a Catholic church be Methodist and Episcopal?
Will Willingham says
“It will be something. But you will feel like you had to fight for it.”
L. L. Barkat says
I like that you picked that out. It was a very important part of the piece for me 🙂
I am reading poemcrazy right now and this reference made me giddy happy.
L. L. Barkat says
Did it? Any particular reason? (glad you are reading poemcrazy 🙂 )
I took myself on an unplanned Artist Date today! Yep – My new friend Blue Heron was wonderful company. Rumi After Party included! http://thebrightersideblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/artist-date-with-blue-heron.html