Saturday, March 14, 2015

Commedia Dell’Arte

Jenny picked up a paintbrush today.

And an orchid blossom.

Not a plain colored one that would be, one would think, an easy first step for getting back on that proverbial horse.

An intricately veined one, fuschia on pale yellow, like, I dunno, veins on a bruised eyeball. But do I really have to point that out?

She's been out of the hospital for two weeks now. Her brain is healing so well she doesn't need physical therapy, but the damage to her vision persists. We made a date last week to spends some time making art, to create a space for her to face the process again. She set out plastic and unwrapped a new canvas pad, her motions sure from habit but still somehow tentative. "I've been so nervous about this," she admitted. "I don't know how this is going to go."

She holds the orchid in her hands, turning it this way and that, pressing the thin petals, feeling their edges, seeing it. Sounds start coming from her mouth as she gets lost in the generous beauty of the colors. "Oh wow. Smashing." She crumples up a paper towel and sets the flower gently on it, the delicate fuscia lips opening into her field of vision.

Doing the pencil sketch, she observes how little it matters, with art, that one be exact. What you make of a thing is separate from what it is in reality. She complains about her bad brushes—she can't find the good ones—but forges ahead, blending colors and moistening the paper.

"The best thing about watercolor is how it's partly in your control and partly not."

"Like life," I muse.

We listen to Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky as she paints, as I write. I am trying to figure out how to finish my blog. I've been home for a month and am trying to make room in my daily life for the expansive feelings I brought home with me, which both are and are not part of the story. My writing is as ungrounded and tentative as her experimental strokes. I am nervous for her, as well. Hoping this won't end in tears, paints thrown around the room.... I have faith.

As Jenny paints,  she becomes more and more excited and relieved. "I can do it," she breathes. "I can see color. " She is pleased with the results, even delighted.  I am impressed. We both relax.

We take a slow walk afterwards, ("I feel like a dog," she says. "I need three walks a day.  And a nap.") But her memory needs jogging. I tell her about our meetings before I left, oranges and a love-fest. She remembers telling me to go, and is glad I went, but admits she feels jealous when she reads this blog. I was glad we could talk about our less-than noble feelings (which don't diminish our noble feelings, by any means), and I unburdened myself of my feelings of guilt, for leaving her to seek my own happiness as she took her journey through pain.

As scared as I was to go on my own, I was truly more scared to stay. A lot of people don't survive AVMs bursting. Jenny's family went through it, especially her sister, who had to face this fear with strength and a smile, every day. And her devoted partner Sandy, who surrounded her; he deserves a mountaintop reward. I told Jenny I wanted to believe, deep down, that the spiritual energy and momentum we created with our planning and our drama helped her be a better statistic. (Not to mention all the prayers and good wishes from everyone who has followed the story!)

The world of art opens up again. And the friendship goes on. And best of all, today we began the conversation again: let's go to Italy, shall we? So she can see for herself.

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