Monday, December 10, 2012

I want my own Institute of Slow Information.

A couple of weeks ago, I included an excerpt from Vivian Swift's travel journal, Le Road Trip, in which she describes the "colors of Paris" in thought-provoking and artsy ways like "gray without melancholy." I decided to do something similar for my hometown.

*Purposeful rust - the color of still-functioning antique farm equipment and my dad's barn roof in certain shades of light

*Subdued hazel - the quiet color of hay fields, the river, and the eyes of several people I care about

*Patchwork blues -a stippling of shades that somehow create continuity in the lake, the library mural, and hand-stitched quilts
Additional excerpts I absolutely love...
"Travel Tip: The term is in situ --in the land of origin. We travel to put ourselves in situ, in a place where we belong.  The feeling that one was born in the wrong place is an ancient and universal experience, such that I suspect (a) it is part of our human DNA; and (b) is why our kind are born wanderers.  We travel to find the place where we can recognize ourselves for once.  Be on the lookout for that jolt of unexpected familiarity in a foreign land: that's how you'll know you are in situ." 67

Throughout my travels, I have had only a few moments when I thought, "This just feels home-ish to me. I could live here." Who knows? Maybe I could, maybe I couldn't when it came down to it, but I do think "it says something" that the rather rare thought even crossed my mind. Those places included Wallingford, Vermont, Seattle, Washington, and Prague, Czech Republic.  Ultimately, however, the place where I have most recognized myself, the place where I have felt like the "best version of me," the place where I never expected familiarity after the passing of eleven years, was exactly where I am now. 

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." - Douglas Adams
Talking to a tapestry owner  in Bayeux about new threads, "This counts as one of the best conversations I've ever had in my life." 71

A few conversations I consider my "best"...
1. a 30-minute phone interview with Brandi Carlile in which we talked about everything from the colors in her kitchen, to what constitutes a "good Christmas," to the names of her many animals, to how she takes her coffee, to her lingering frustrations toward organized religion

2. a brief, and frustrating-at-the-time, conversation with my dad in the Turner Farm living room on a random winter afternoon a few years ago: I was talking about an "ideal job," and how taking the opportunity would help me "in the long run." His paraphrased response: "True, but Liza, you have to make enough to live on.  It's good to dream and want more, but you have to provide for yourself in the meantime." CLT was always supportive, but he also kept me grounded. By example, he encouraged self-sufficiency and reminded me that sometimes we just have to suck it up and do the hard stuff, the stuff we don't necessarily want to do.

3.  an ultimatum-based conversation in an ice-cream parlor that involved me clearly articulating what I wanted, what I could give, and what I couldn't; it wasn't a conversation that yielded a triumphant end, but it was a conversation I look back upon with pride.  I didn't give in when it mattered. I held on to what I knew was most important.
"Next Life: My embroidery studio on the Main Street of Bayeux will be just one part of my Institute of Slow Information. I will also teach letter writing, listening, miniature portrait painting, and the art of doing one thing at a time." 71

I want my own Institute of Slow Information.  I want to spend days writing letters to Caroline, taking painting classes, working on my great-grandmother's quilt tops, learning how to bake sourdough bread with my mother, reading every book that is stacked on my nightstand, and writing a book, the likes of which I like to read. 

If you haven't checked out Bill Guffey's new studio, I definitely encourage you to stop by. His artwork is beautiful, and has heart, and will surely impress you.  The building renovations he and Kelly did themselves are equally impressive.

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