A return to my roots as an artist, the East Coast is where it all began, where I began. Humming birds, honeysuckle flowers, fireflies, and foggy mornings. In many ways, a home away from home. A place of distant memory with faint echoes of lives past.
Before this week's trip I didn't realize Upstate New York even had substantial mountains. Sure, the tallest ones barely break only 5000 ft. above sea level, but, amazingly, they still had alpine zones and exposed rock. Had there not been signs posted with elevation, I would have compared them loosely with the Pioneer mountains of Montana in their shape, composition, and relief from valley floor to mountain peak. The Adirondack and northern Appalachian Mountains were carved and worked upon by glacial forces in the last Ice Age. Lake Placid (known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics) and many other lakes and ponds formed as glaciers simply melted in place rather than drag out to sea a path, or slip deep into valleys beneath rugged peaks as we often see in the West. Deep and shallow lakes dot the Adirondack Wilderness. Rolling hills and dense fog-drenched forests stretch in all directions. Though, because of the thick forests, seeing for miles is rare unless you find a clearing at the top of a hill or ancient mountain.
The history of the East feels different than that of the West. Ghosts of the past are everywhere. Not just of the human form. Old homes of the colonial era, gravestones, narrow streets, horse-drawn buggies of the Amish, dilapidated barns and old foundations, trees that date before America was even a thought. All of it has an air about it. Dense with memories, good and bad. A great deal of blood has been shed on this hallowed soil in the name of freedom or the lack thereof. A reminder of our past, and where we are in the present. A window into what the future holds.
This trip was taken in an effort to celebrate my grandmother turning 90. She is my last living grandparent, my dad's mom. I am the youngest grandchild on this side of the family. As such, I have been understandably clueless to the happenings within a family. Life is complicated, love hurts, people come and go, even within families. I grew this trip. 1 week is not a lot of time, but my perspectives on life have changed as I have been privy to the underlying currents within the family dynamic. Regret and pain are as real as hope and joy felt in the moment a mother sees her son again after many years. I won't hang out the dirty laundry for you, it's not about that anyways. Instead I choose to reflect on the beautiful moments we shared this week.
My dad is my role model in life, my mother, my greatest advocate. Together, they represent the greatest gift I have ever been given. Upstate NY is my dad's old stomping grounds, his childhood. With memories as rich as the fresh maple syrup we bought from a local farmer's market embedded all around him in the creeks he would fish as a boy. I watched as he drove, by memory, to childhood homes, up narrow streets, past ponds and lakes. I had a raw glimpse into the mind and the past of my father.
Why am I telling you all this? I don't even know who is going to read this. So, then, I am writing to strangers. I had an experience on the bus back to Idaho Falls from Salt Lake City yesterday. By this point, I was on the third leg of a long journey. I was dozing in the not-so-comfortable seats of the Salt Lake Express bus when, suddenly and abruptly, I felt an object fall into my lap. I awoke to see a book resting in my hands, but before I could even think of putting it back up on the shelf lining the bus walls above me, where I assumed it had originated, I felt a strong, undeniable urge to read it. So read it, I did. 2/3 of a 400 page book in 3 hours in fact. I finished it this morning. The words leapt from the page, and the rawness and humanity of the story captivated me. In the moment the book and I crossed paths, I knew deep down this was and would be a life-altering read. A door clearly opened in front of me. To where, I do not yet know. The book's title: Summer Island by Kristin Hannah. Worth the read I'd say, 9/10.
Washington State has been calling my name lately. To move there, unlikely, to visit, certainly! My uncle, whom I haven't seen in 20 years lives on an Island in the Puget Sound. Incredible coincidence as the book that landed in my lap was set in the San Juan Islands of the Sound. My eyes, my heart is being directed to a place I have never set eyes on before. Have you ever experienced that before?
I am at a transition point in my life. This year of art is becoming a life of art. I am moving out of the basement of the sweetest couple's home, where for the last 4 months, I have dreamed, cried, worked, loved, and lived. I now step into the unknown of life on my own, at my own pace, to go where my heart takes me. This trip to NY sparked a fire deep within. A reminder of priorities. Love is the way. There is no other, only loneliness, yearning but never arriving. Time is short, and I intend to spend it with those I love, doing the things we love to do. There is magic in love. Pain, sure, but magic too. I am grateful for love lost in others, and love found in others still. Perhaps my message to the world today is: it is never too late to love! Love life, love others, love yourself.
For now, enjoy a few pictures from out east. Though not east Idaho, it is all the same planet, this is Earth, this is life.