Today my new eight year old existential friend paid me a studio visit. She carried on a lively conversation, told a few jokes, and then, very seriously asked “so, how is your life?” It gave me a moment’s pause. I answered her with the seriousness the question deserved. I told her “my life is joyous”. End of discussion.
The day before she had told me that being in her new third grade classroom felt like “being in another world”. I guess, when you grow up with the Aegean as your background you think in those terms. As an artist I’m always analyzing what is AROUND the thing I’m painting. Artists call it the “negative space”. The rest of the world calls it the “background”. It’s been amusing to me, while here, to see a bunch of dusty hens and a rooster with the Aegean as their negative space, or my landlord, repairing a motor, surrounded by a vast expanse of turquoise water and blue sky.
From the perch of my balcony I can watch the whole village. Every evening after school children play until dark below me in a playground. I’m so high up that birds fly below me. Today the wind was strong and I watched a bird flying in one spot, like a kite, unmoving for whole minutes. From my balcony I can barely see sailboats and fishing boats, tiny as ants, but I can hear their motors clearly, amplified by the water. Tired from a three hour uphill-downhill walk I took today– by accident, having taken a wrong turn, I decide to cook supper in my apartment. There’s one skillet– that’s it. It’s like camping out, I tell myself. And I whip up a Greek salad, kabobs, fries cooked in olive oil, yogurt with local honey, with a glass (or two) of retsina.
I had intended to walk down to the beach I can see from the studio– emerald green water with smooth marble rocks. I was told that for the price of an bottle of water you can have an umbrella and beach chair for the day, but the wrong turn sent me over the mountain instead,to a deserted cove, empty and covered in litter. There was nothing to do but turn around and climb my way back out. Determined to find the emerald beach I took several more wrong turns, and ended up having to trespass and slide down a steep hillside on my bottom. It was unseemly, to say the least, for a woman of a certain age to arrive at the beach sweaty and dirty as I did. But find it I finally did, bought my water, got my umbrella, took out my paints, and the rains came. Nothing would soothe me but a plate of calamari, which I enjoyed in the taverna, watching the rain pour. The beach will be painted on another day. Right now there is a very promising rainbow hovering over it.