This is my latest piece and I'm absolutely tickled with how it turned out! I showed it to my favourite resident story teller and she said a story automatically began unfolding in her head as she looked at it. Well, isn't that just one of the best compliments an artist can get? As I've said before, if a piece can evoke emotion in the viewer, if it can make them feel, really feel something, whether that something is happiness, longing, anger, whatever, then the artist has done his/her job. As the young people would say, "its gotta hit ya in the feels."
Seeing as my favourite story teller had this unfolding story, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I figured it would be fun to allow her to guest post here and share what she sees:
I'm not really sure how just over 28 years can be reduced to a few boxes, but apparently it can be. A lifetime of joy, pain, laughing, tears, family dinners, scraped knees and broken hearts happened here. If these walls could talk.
I remember when Joe and I first found this place, we were so young. The kids were so small; in fact, little Kate (well, she's not little now, she's 25) was born here. We were so excited to start our life in the city, good schools, a good neighbourhood and after an exhaustive and oftentimes infuriating search, we found this place, a huge 3 bedroom apartment on the top floor, big, bright, clean and best of all, decently affordable. It wasn't cheap, but where would you find a place this size for cheap? Anyway, we weren't looking for cheap, Joe had gotten a really great job, the kind of job that meant that as a family, we were moving up; we were finally in a position to do what all parents dream of, giving their kids a better life than we had. As it turns out, it was a wonderful move, the neighbours were great, more like family than friends. The breakups and makeups, the gossip sessions over coffee, or wine, depending on the hour, that I shared with the girls here would rival even the juiciest of soap operas.
The wall in the dining room is all marked up in the corner, three height charts that kind of look like one, except there are 3 colours, red for Joey Jr., blue for Jake, and yellow for Kate. We stopped measuring the day Jake overtook his brother in height. He's still the tallest. And I'll never forget the day he broke his leg, just outside the building. He thought he was some sort of hotshot skateboarder, or a stunt devil, I'm not sure, but whatever he thought he was, he fell and bent his leg back the wrong way. I heard the screams from way up here and still feel the terror in my heart when I think about it. Connie called an ambulance. She lived downstairs and always kept a close eye on the kids. A few days in hospital and a few weeks in a cast and he was fine. He stopped playing dare devil after that and turned his attention to cooking. He's a chef now, and a good one as far as I'm concerned.
I remember the long nights, Joe coming home late, exhausted and disillusioned. We'd talk and pour over the bills, there never seemed to be any extra no matter how much better it seemed we were doing. We always managed though. If he or I had to go without, we happily did so, just so the kids had what they needed, like that time Joey Jr. had his heart set on a big hockey trip. We really couldn't afford it, and Joe wanted to say no, to teach him a lesson about the real world. We argued about that, and I eventually talked him around. I mean Joey had worked so hard for that trip, I knew his heart would be broken if he couldn't go. So, we dipped into the credit card for it. And there was that time Kate just "had to have" that blue dress for her prom. It cost more than our first car, but you know the old saying, nothing's too good for the kids.
I could go on, there are so many stories. Eventually the neighbourhood changed, or maybe we did. Friends who had become family started moving on, and then the kids did too, to university, to college, to new wives and husbands. Joe and I eventually found ourselves alone in this big apartment. It was filled with stuff, but it was empty. We were a great team for all those years, but somewhere along the line, the love story turned into something else, a partnership, a project, maybe the job was to see the kids through, I don't know. We made the decision to split about 3 months after Kate married. It had been coming for a while and I can't say that either Joe or I honestly shed any tears over that. There was a deep sadness, sure, but not in that broken hearted way. But today, as I take a last look around this place, this apartment that I've spent the last 28 years in, I do feel sad, the place seems hollow, empty. I suppose it would, the entire contents of my life, our lives, are in 2 trucks downstairs. Yet, I can still hear the laughter, the chatter of excited children, the tv that was always too loud, the music that never really sounded like music to me, and the soft snoring of tired children. Yeah, if these walls could talk. It's time to go, I know that, and I'm excited for my new life. I just need a few more minutes, the door's open, and I will walk out it, and I'll close it behind me, in just a few minutes.
I didn't tell you the name of the piece, but after reading that, I suppose it wouldn't surprise you to know I called it Empty Apartment.