You dropped me off that first day, and outside the annex was this group of punk rockers, with their Mohawks and ripped clothes, combat boots and attitude. Remember you turned to me and said: “If you come home looking like that, don’t bother coming home”.
I think you were a bit shocked, as that was not how you saw artists.
You wanted this for me, and that was why I was there after all…you know…because of you. It was the late 80’s, and inside that building, I would meet this cast of characters. I would meet ideas, and alternative ways of looking at EVERYTHING. We had come together from different places, different experiences, and for different reasons. Yet, we shared this one commonality – some mode of expression was going to take a hold of us, and this is where we were going to figure out what, how.
And, maybe even…why?
Some of the memories from that time are hazy today. Faces have been erased, names gone with the wind.
We were one of the last groups to go through the annex, we were THE last to experience the magic of it. The people we began as, to the people we became. The things that place taught me changed me forever.
There is before, and after BealArt.
Well, so Friday night my internet goes out, and could not get my tablet to find wi-fi. Decided I was not going to just stare at the four walls all night. I was restless. So, I walked the dog, had a good dinner, and got ready. I walked downtown and stopped at the bank. Couldn’t decide where I wanted to go yet. To the usual? Or to the other place. See, I really do not go out that often anymore.
I thought, maybe it’s a good thing I can’t get on the net.
Lately, I’ve not been sure what this blog is. What purpose it serves. I was questioning what it was I was doing. Where I wanted to go with it.
Funny thing is, I hadn’t really even been thinking of BealArt at all. That’s what is so odd, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Decided on the other place. Sat down, and had me a Guinness. You know, often writers have been known to have their favourite pub, their watering hole, the place they could maybe meet a like-minded soul. I have often thought you meet the best characters in pubs. And, so my thinking was maybe I needed some fodder to get the juices flowing again. Something different, out of character. Or, at least out of character to my normal routine. I am an irregular visitor to pubs, for over a year now.
So this guy comes in, sits down at the end of the bar. Baseball cap, gray sweatshirt, gray in his beard, matching the grayish tone of the hat. The set of the mouth, the laugh, the eyes, and then the bartender called him by his first name. Familiarity sparked…and I thought could it be? So I asked him “what is your last name”?
And I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what his answer would be. I knew.
In my mind, I went way, way back in time. To that time, that place, those people, and all the dreams we had for ourselves.
The man in front me had gone from black, to gray. Life had changed him. It had changed me.
But inside, inside is the person I knew, though slightly mellowed with age. Wiser. With more wounds, I saw, to add to the ones he bore back then. Life has a way.
The last time I saw him, it was maybe, 16 years ago, in a coffee shop downtown. He was mentoring some young artist, and still creating, still in the midst of what was now a completely changed environment. While art was still taught, the annex was long gone, lost to the school’s expansion a few years after we left. The wrecking ball tore it all down. With new studios and modern conveniences, but with none of its heart.
And that is what I suppose is so strange, as the man sitting before me is not the same, and so much has changed. For both of us.
Life has a way.
Back then he would have eaten me up and spit me out.
Its been a week now since that night, and I’ve thought of little else, but him. I’ve come back to this post tried, again and again, to express what I’m thinking.
Thing is, I don’t know what this is. I can’t eat, I can’t concentrate on anything else. I sit outside on the stoop and find myself drifting off, staring into nothing. I am completely distracted.
There is a part of me that wants to just get back to where I was. I can’t though. There is no going back. My hands shake just writing this, and I have never felt this way, and I don’t know what has happened to me.
See Mom, he has a serious medical condition that is going to kill him. Yet, we are all dying; some of us though have inside information. His heart doesn’t work the way it should. It is, I guess you could say, broken.
His mortality is all too real for him today.
He reminds me of stuff, too, that I haven’t thought about in a long time. That in-between – between who I was BEFORE BealArt, and who I was AFTER. The dash between the dates. You know, I hadn’t thought about that time in a while. A long while, actually.
And, about all that happened after.
And who I am today.
It has had me recalling things lost in the background noise of life. Lying there inside me, the foundation of who I am today. The WHY I am who I am today. The reason I am who I am today.
In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
…and a basket case…
…and a criminal…
Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.