Thursday, November 3, 2016

You've never been there?

Although we officially married on May 14, 2004 we count November 5,1999 (our first date) as our anniversary. It was love at first sight and today we still feel the giddiness of infatuation.


“You’ve never been there?” Richard asks. We were looking at a group of photos of a beach spread on the conference table at Electric Works, Richard’s fine art print and book publishing shop. Judith had come to get an estimate on a book project. Richard's speech bubble says, “I’ll take you there", (thought balloon reads, “I’ll take you there, baby"). "Let's meet at my studio and we’ll go out to the National Seashore — Point Reyes." 

The place in the pictures was Kehoe Beach showing the headlands in full spring blossoming—lupins, tidy tips and poppies made the green bluffs into a magic Turkish carpet, florid and extravagant. In the pictures, the broken rain clouds scudded toward the sharp ledge of the Pacific horizon like galleons, sails set, balloons of cotton. 

Really? at this age, with all that water under the bridge? A date? 

November 5, 1999. It was not a day like in the pictures. It was early fall and the gold grass of summer had given way to brown broke-down stalks subsiding back to dirt. It can be a gloomy time of dead plants and the migratory hawks have moved on. But as we drove out to the Kehoe trailhead the clouds from the first autumn rain evaporated to make a bright day, a hard turquoise dome. We crunched along the trail to the beach rimming a marsh full of Tule Reeds and Cattails summer dust washed away—freshened up. It was a super low tide and the beach doubled its real estate—wide and flat, the waves relaxed into a shinning sky mirror. Sea air, fresh breeze, expansive and expansive to the mind though we were both with more than a hint of first-date-wobbliness, long single and at the fifty something mark…start this again?

State the territory: Who are you? We get talking about our art, both committed to it for thirty years. Judith picks up a piece of plastic. “You collect plastic? Not sea glass, plastic, really?" "You gonna keep that?" We discover we’d both been collecting plastic for three years before this (cue trumpets) appointment with destiny.

What are the chances? The plastic debris has a certain charm, worn to a wabi-sabi asymmetry and patinaed from a tumble in surf and sand. Plastic. Yes, we both had the collector’s penchant for picking up plastic with a curatorial disposition toward both the seldom seen and objects by their sheer number lending a giddy lust for finding.

And now on the beach, years later, still picking eroded chunks of a profligate culture out of the surf line. It’s the fall of 2016. After over 70 exhibits of prints and sculptures made of the stuff, we are still at it. Although we have gotten older (and wiser?) we are still able to bend to the task of finding in the welter of seaweed, shells and driftwood maybe a toy soldier, maybe a doll part, for sure a cigarillo tip chewed and tossed into the sea carrying the dental evidence of a worried thought. Always, a shotgun sabot. We still thrill at the find and, "Yes, yes, yes, I'm gonna keep that!!!"