First, I got news that my friend, Michele Nichols, was killed in a small plane crash. Michele was an artist in Orlando with whom I'd often worked, and whom, I must confess, I loved. Of course, she had a boyfriend, and he died also in the plane crash, but I would have married her in a second if she'd been single and if, miraculously, she would have wanted such a thing. But life rages against our desires often. Michele and I occasionally talked on the phone or emailed, and she had bought my old PC when I left Orlando last year. She paid more than it was worth, and she asked me, "Are you all right? Let me give you more money." And just a couple of months ago, I "borrowed back" my computer from her, visiting her at her apartment in Orlando for a couple of hours. She never used the computer she said, and I needed one for a while, promising to either bring it back or pay her back. "No, no, " she said, "Keep it, keep it." ... Sweet, sweet Michele is all I can think about, and her terrible final moments. Her face is so clear in my head. And my artist's imagination keeps playing a vivid reel of the plane's violent crash and explosion, with sweet Michele being mercilessly twisted and destroyed in the middle of the inferno, over and over in my head. I know this will torture my soul for a while, but like everything it will pass, and that will be sad as well. Then again, my suffering is certainly less than that of her family and closest friends. And I hate myself for being so interested my own suffering, fascinated by it really. I am an egotist.
Another thing happened, and this within 48 hours of the news of Michele's passing. A special friend of mine emailed a long letter to me which can be best described as a complete evisceration of our friendship. The man and his wife are portrait clients of mine, but more than that they are a couple to whom I have, in the past, looked for guidance and respect. I especially have wanted their respect. He is a boat captain, but he retired last year, and he and his wife moved out of state. I haven't spoken to them in several months, and then, suddenly, I receive this horrible email. I won't go into details, but it was bad enough that it makes me concerned for my friend's physical and spiritual health. Of course, it makes me doubt myself. My confidence in all things wavers constantly ... And so I'm stuck between incomprehension, anger, and love.
On lesser news, all my money-making efforts here in Apollo Beach have been defeated. I thought, for sure, that a couple of little commissions were developing, and I wasn't worried, but suddenly I was completely broke. I absolutely am unable, psychologically, to return to a normal job, but I won't go into details of that. Besides, I know how to make money with my art, but this whole thing snuck up on me. Maybe I wished it so. I don't know. I never planned to stay in Apollo Beach, and I've found myself glued to the place, unable to ascertain the proper will, or understand the proper will, or discover the proper will. I only know that I want to do my art, and travel simply, and not have friends die or friends deny me their friendship or... or...
What this all culminated into is, I have sold my cruising sailboat. In my current emotional/soulful state, I just wish to go. I'd like to photograph and paint wildlife and marine life, and I thought, in fact, that I'd buy the simplest craft I know, a canoe. Deck it, put a sail on it, grab a few items and my art supplies, and, indeed, go. Build a series of serious paintings.
But I compromised. I found a $200 sailboat, old and taken-apart and half-customized, but with almost all the parts, all the (OLD) sails, and with a decent trailer, and nothing but potential. It will be ready to go into the water in just a few days. The sailboat is only 20 feet long, and one-forth the weight of my just-sold cruising sailboat. It can actually be rowed, and the mast is rather easily put up and taken down. And everything is cheaper about such a small boat, and simpler. This is crucial. Perfect for my starving-artist/lamenting-soul mindset right now.
The $200 Sailboat:
Yes, I will live on her, and go to The Keys, and find tourists to buy my paintings, and begin working on a real portfolio. And I need to commit myself to improving my draftsmanship.
Being truly mobile is precious to me. With this boat, I can take all my art supplies and even most of my books and whatnot, and stay relatively dry. I think of it as a fat canoe, really. It has ballast in the form of a 400 lb. iron swing keel, and should be fairly stable yet nimble. My 22 lb. Danforth-style anchor, 30 feet of chain, and 150 feet of 1/2" three-strand anchor line should hold this vessel through everything up to a hurricane.
So I conclude the horror of this week with a touch of hope. And tomorrow is a new week.