I spent the weekend in Tifton, Georgia, at the Tifton Love Affair Fine Arts Festival. Though the crowds were a bit sparse, I have to say the committee that put on this show was by far the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. From the time I submitted my application until pack up when they walked around and gave all the artists a free festival t-shirt, this group lived up to Tifton’s nickname of “The Friendly City.” I was also honored to be awarded a Merit Award for my Miss Jasmine, shown here. It was my very first festival award, and I was very excited. And I was even more excited when towards the end of the day Sunday, the festival chair brought me a check, as I didn’t realize the award came with a monetary benefit! That was certainly a nice surprise to help out what was otherwise a slow show sales wise.
I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster here lately, probably a bit more down than up, I’m afraid. And today has been a particularly emotional day. The Tifton show came in the middle of a really, really busy time for me, so while I always enjoy my shows, I’m a bit frazzled by everything facing me here lately. In addition to my work and art commitments I told you about here, I’ve been facing some personal issues that’ve got me a bit down. About a month ago, Walter, my best friend at work, told me he has decided to retire early. I will miss him terribly, as he’s truly what keeps me sane on the job; his last day is May 31, and we can’t talk about it much because we both starting tearing up! A week later, I learned that a very dear friend and former business partner of mine has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. He’s sounding remarkably positive, so I’m glad for that as I feel the fight against cancer or any major illness is helped by a positive attitude. He and his family remain in my prayers; he will beat this. The day after I learned that news, my great Aunt Livy fell and broke her hip and clavicle; she’ll be 90 this August and is now in a rehab facility. Last Thursday, another of my closest friends lost his father, also to cancer; he wrote a beautiful post about him on Facebook that brought tears to my eyes as I know how badly he’s hurting right now. And this morning, I was greeted with an email from a friend that another dear friend of ours lost his battle with cancer last night. Charlie was diagnosed in September and went into hospice care about two months ago. He was a truly amazing man, and such a tragedy, as are all those lost this way, but Charlie was something else. He first fostered and then adopted three special needs kids and built a beautiful family with his wife Trish. He touched every student and colleague who had the pleasure of knowing him, and I feel blessed to have been touched by his grace. Cancer sucks.
Today I went to lunch with one of my oldest friends, Melody. With our hectic lives, we don’t get to see each other often, but when we do, we very easily pick up right where we left off and feel like we did 30 years ago, the very best of friends. Melody and I have led remarkably parallel lives, having lost our mothers within a year of each other (hers to cancer…did I say cancer sucks?) and having experienced the pain of infertility for years before finally having children, within three weeks of each other. We talked a lot today about all that we’ve been through, and she helped me try to work through a personal family issue I’m currently trying to wrap my head around, but I’m not quite there yet. Fighting back tears in Moe’s was a first for both of us today, since neither one of us managed to fight them very well, but just spending an hour and a half with her helped me clear my head a bit.
I returned to my office after lunch to an email from one of my best friends from college, who tomorrow morning will be having a lawyer serve divorce papers and a restraining order to her husband of nearly 20 years. I knew this day was coming as she’s talked to me about it in depth for nearly two years now, sharing what she’s been experiencing at home, but I think hearing that news today, on top of all the other news I’ve heard over the past month, just brought everything to the forefront. Her email today shouldn’t have surprised me as she had been on my mind all weekend, and I almost called her on my way home from Tifton last night to check on her but I knew she wouldn’t be able to talk freely; we’ve always had a second sense for each other, even though we now live on opposite sides of the country. My heart has been aching for her and her family ever since I read her note.
Life’s funny sometimes, isn’t it? Things can be moving along swimmingly, and then BOOM, it hits you with a trail of things to trip you up and bring you back down to the ground. I don’t get down often, and when I do, I don’t usually share it here, but something told me to let this all out. Will I pull this post tomorrow? Who knows. Most times I don’t feel anywhere near my true age; many days I feel like I’m still in my late 20’s or early 30’s, one of the benefits of working around college kids all day. Today I feel the weight of my years, and all that comes with growing up, the emotions working around me and falling off me like Jasmine’s peeling paint and years of rust.