Which is the Detour? What difference does art make?
My friends Carol and Joyce and I used to go to a different small town fish fry every Friday night. It was a straight trip to the restaurant, a leisurely supper, and a meandering detour home. Our one rule on the trip home was drive straight until we reached a stop or T in the road and then one of us said right or left. We proceeded in that direction until the next decision point. Since we knew that all gravel roads led to one of about six main roads, we were not going to get really lost. Our time spent on the road was put to good use laughing and looking for “fixer uppers” for me to buy. We all knew my teacher’s salary wasn’t going to buy the well loved, shabby chic Victorian houses that I wished for. But, a girl’s gotta dream.
Those dreams have led me on some great adventures over the years. One of my earliest dreams was to teach literature and it led me to a small Iowa town on the Mississippi. It was there I learned to quilt on snow days and make small dolls to sell in craft shows. I had classrooms full of indelible students who taught me how to not take life so seriously. Who knew that one could begin every day with the Pledge followed by five minutes of burping and farting? The price you pay teaching freshmen boys Romeo and Juliet, I guess. Together we plotted and painted school windows. We routinely ventured into “the Frozen Northland” to a Minnesota Spanish language camp to sing and dance the weekends away having snowy adventures that were anything but ordinary. I learned that I had to be smarter than the projector screen in order to make my class presentations work. The most impressive event of my time there is that 20 years later I have been able to reconnect online with a surprisingly large number of students who remember how much fun we had decorating for proms, working on class projects, and eating spaghetti. Dream fulfilled.
Sometimes the orange traffic barrels and cones do not clearly mark the road and it’s difficult to tell which is the detour and which is the road. I am currently in one of those stretches. Everything seems to be merged into one superhighway. Reinventing yourself is tricky under the best of circumstances, but when the economy is tanking as it has been, you learn to breathe deep and drive forward. Just as if you were heading back from a fish fry in a pop up blizzard.
I plan to use this blog to navigate the detours in search of the artful bits that feed my soul and keep me sane. I hope there will be adventures in all the things I love: needle arts, cooking, writing, and travel with all the people I love best. Maybe some day I will finally figure out if the arts are the main road or the serendipitous detours.