On the Wings of Art

Transfixed, I stand before a work of art covering most of a wall. I know very little about art—but I know what moves me. I remember visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art on the heels of a magical afternoon spent in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a treasure in the city park, (not to be missed). It was a balmy 80+ degree day, and the museum was the dessert.

There I was moved in a way that I had never been, despite trips to many museums. My ticket? Claude Monet’s Snow Effect Giverny-1893.

In an instant, chill blanketed the air, winter enfolded me. The sultry NOLA outside fell away. I stood frozen. I needed to go no further. I had traveled to Giverny. Now I understood what my husband, after all these years, felt when he, an art aficionado and knowledgeable—but NOT SNOOTY—tried to convey this experience. That was several years ago, and while we’ve viewed much art since then…not the same. (I lie—Mark Rothko in Houston, magic carpet, too.)

Now I’m standing in front of this canvas, and I swear, on this balmy San José Art Walk evening in the Patricia Mendoza gallery, I am in the sea, deep in the sea. I cannot move, the weight of water holds me captive. When I surface, catch my breath, I put on my glasses to read the tiny card accompanying the canvas. “El Mar Profundo” by Eduardo Mejorado. “The Deep Sea.”

The price is $26,000 USD, a serious price for a serious piece of art, and worth every penny. What a trip—beauty.

How Many Stars?

When we come upon the pelican, dead in the water, that is the final straw. As if the tons of tour boats, just like ours, noses jammed into the small section of sea cordoned by tow ropes and occasional buoys, and the blaring music from large cruise yachts sporting reveling young adults enjoying Spring Break, isn’t enough: we have chosen the wrong tour activity. Snorkeling at Pelican Rock (with souvenir photos!) delivers less than expected. What is that saying? “Expectations=planned disappointments.

I could reflect on my choice of leaving a four-out-of-five star review on trip advisor after this ill-conceived misadventure. Here’s the thing—the captain Jonathan and the guide, Chuckie, did their damnedest to make this a worthy excursion. Both charming and accommodating, they shared folklore and jokes, helped the first-time snorkeler among us graciously, but CABO SAN LUCAS is not paradise…now.

It is overcrowded and loud; it’s popularity over time has sealed its fate. The fish themselves almost seem embarrassed to be there, skittering about above a sandy bottom, skirting rocks like stage performers at a soon-to-close show.

And the water in March? It’s 65°—that’s cold for an elder like me. I realize the truth of that when I take the plunge, mask held firmly in place as instructed, and head for the buoy rope. I am immediately chilled, no “getting used to it” will save me. I swim about a bit, attempt to follow the guide closer to our objective “rock,” but after seeing those shame-faced fish, I turn toward the beach and sun.

So that review? What do I do? I am kind but honest. I tout the people and their efforts. I know that most of us are trying to do our best with what we have to work with. That is the tourist philosophy that works for me.

On the Road

It’s another Zoom meeting on a Sunday afternoon when my son Sam and his bride-to-be Alex announce that they are canceling plans for their wedding in October. While not a surprise exactly—they have been deliberating this decision for months now—it is a disappointment. In the grand scheme, it’s almost petty, but on a personal level, sad. They are going to get married, probably sooner than any possibility of a family-and-friends fête arrives, but no specifics are offered.

When we receive the email letting attendees know even though we had been forewarned, it’s like opening a barely scabbed wound.

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I had been excited about the prospect of these two wonderful people joining forces, but especially, and selfishly so, because for the first time, all five of my siblings had been invited. (There have been many marriages among my nieces and nephews but none to date had included all six of us.)

I let my imagination bear me away on wild wings, beach walking to images of the six of us loudly laughing and carrying on in some chill New Orleans venue, jazz in the background, crawfish on the table, and shared joy, a reunion. It is a rarity when our tribe gets together; the bonds that unite us are enduring yet forgiving. Love underpins it all, but we are an independent, far-flung bunch, and this event would pull people from Hawaii and Wyoming, Oregon and Mexico. The last time we had all been together was at my aunt’s funeral nine years ago. An updated photo featuring bright and sunny smiles in festive finery would have been a much-desired addition to our family album.

This morning we are leaving on a road trip to meet Sam and Alex at Alex’s parents’ home in Santa Rosa. It is a big adventure—with more than a dash of anxiety—because novel virus, novel world. En route we plan a brief stay in the redwood forest before completing the 10-hour journey. The kids will meet us there on Friday after flying from NOLA. (The details of their preparation to ensure that they are being as safe as possible don’t bear repeating, but be sure, they are numerous.)

This was to be their engagement party weekend, large and merry. Now it will be small— but merry? No doubt. When I spoke with my sister yesterday, the satellite buzzed with our Hawaii-to-Oregon chatter. We had recently canceled our family-sized New Orleans Airbnb and were discussing plans to do it again when fates allow. Then she said, “You know, Trish, your trip? It might be the perfect situation, the parents in one place…,” and I stopped her.

“We’re trying not to think about it, you know ‘expectations are planned disappointment.'” But the thought, their words, “Oh, we want to get married more than ever,” has crossed our minds. I have written before about Sam surprising us— and Alex— with his proposal while visiting here in Oregon, and about how my husband and I eloped after knowing each other for a month, so…

Road Trip! Whatever happens, oh, we are so happy!