I have worked for the past two months on renovating the house I have always called home; the house that was Dad’s, Grandma’s before him, and now my own. The initial trepidation and awe of handling 60 years of history have given way to questions like “I wonder what this wire leads to?” and “what the hell am I supposed to do with a big-horn sheep skull?” Either through evolutionary design, divine intervention, or emotions just worn smooth, the sharpness of the pain of months of grieving has subsided. I can think about Dad without falling to bits and laugh at what his reactions might be to my learning how to do the job of a handyman. FYI: chop saws do not like aluminum. Har har har.
Tonight, after running errands, I came back to the house, cussing at the front door lock as it fought me in the cold.
As I opened the door, I was hit head-on with the very specific smell of turpentine.
Understand - there is no turpentine left in this place. All of Dad’s art supplies, save for the brushes, were donated to other artists.
Turpentine was the smell of Dad’s hands, of his home, of everything surrounding him. It is the smell of being a child who is loved and protected. The layers of perception ebb and flow, and tonight I both revel in the memory of the artist I loved, and grieve for the feeling of safety that left with him. In the same breath I wonder what my calling may be and how all of this fits into any kind of pattern.
As I call “Dad!!!!” to these empty walls, all I hear in return is the echo of my own voice.
This is the precipice between feeling inexorably lost and permanently found. I feel that my own work of art is finally being painted; I just wish I could stand back and see it with the perspective of an artist.
A fun post about an artist’s house coming soon....for now, it’s me and the spirits.
Thanks for reading.