Carpe Diem

The unmoving walls of the house glared at me as I fidgeted in the living room, unable to sit still, feeling watched and trapped, as if in a cave that did not want me in it. “I’m going to go mad, Mom. Mentally insane. I need to do something.” I rocked back and forth on the couch a bit more, and checked the clock three times before the minute hand moved at all. “Let’s go walk around somewhere. Let’s go to Beorne.”

“I can’t walk around in this kind of heat,” she replied, “but if you want to go to Beorne, then go to Beorne.”

I was out the door in 15 minutes. I took the short cut, which is actually longer, just so that I could drive and listen to music longer. Anything to be out of the house. Anything to see the world moving and living and changing more than watching the dust settle on the windowsills. In 45 minutes I was in Beorne, trying to find someplace to park that didn’t threaten my innocent car with being towed. I finally found an agreeable spot next to a café that I like. From there I walked down the pavement towards the center of town, stopping in each antique shop as I came to it.

I won’t spend too long boring you with what I find splendidly spectacular. I couldn’t tell you why I like old things so much. I don’t know why I felt like I had found the holy grail every time that I stumbled across old letters as a child, or why I want to touch all of the church walls in Europe because “I can feel the past seeping out of them”. But you probably couldn’t give me a reason for your odd quircks and fascinations, either, and, luckily, no reason is needed for them. The point is that I’m like a kid in a candy store when I walk into an antique shop. Everything is old, pre-owned. Everything has been held by someone of a different time, someone almost, but not quite forgotten by their possessions. Everything has a story, and you can only wonder about it. If you find something that you like, you can take it home and put it on your shelf and stare at it for hours, trying to piece together its history. In the process you create a whole new story in itself, a whole new history.

It’s not even the history that’s leaking out of every nook and cranny in the stores that is what completely fascinates me. It’s the store itself; the horrible ruckus of all of these things from too many times and places all thrown together into one place. It’s the dissonance that somehow creates a harmony, like finding a fez right next to a German cap. It’s the room of clocks, all ticking at different tempos and volumes, all in disagreement, arguing so harmoniously about when the second strikes. The beautiful disarray of it all is what captivates me.

But enough of me trying to captivate you with my fascinations. Like a trail of crumbs, the shops finally led me to the center of the town, where I planned just to walk through the park and snap some photos. I was happily surprised to find that an art show was going on. My aimlessness sent me trailing slowly through all of the venders, appreciating some art and mentally scratching my head at other… erm, attempts at art. Under one canopy was seated an old man with a grey braid that reached to his back, and a younger boy with a short, dark brown ponytail. Both of them were tan and exotic looking, and upon reading their signs I noticed that they were of the Sioux tribe. Having a mother who was practically raised by Native Americans, and a house full of native objects, I took a keen interest in the items that they had made. The boy, who looked about twenty, gave me a short history and synopsis of what they do, which I thoroughly enjoyed. All of their hand made dream catchers and necklaces were beautiful. I walked away with a small dream catcher, which for me will not only catch bad dreams, but inspire new, great ones.

Moving along through the open meadow, I looked back and forth until another vendor caught my eye. I slowed and turned in that direction, and the man under the canopy was up from his lawn chair and walking towards me before I even got there. He greeted me with an undeniably Scandinavian accent. “I saw your eye from across the field,” he said.

He had indeed. His art had caught it. He had paintings hung up on his tarp walls, and more in baskets on a table. They were wonderfully colorful and simplistic. They brought me over, and he made me stay. My irrepressible curiosity led me (as it often does, as many foreigners in Texas could tell you) to ask him where he was from. He replied that he was from Sweden, and he asked me a question in return, then I him, and so forth, until we had been conversing for at least half an hour. We talked about art and life, and contradicted each other about art and life for quite a while. The whole time we talked I was incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with him. At one point a woman and her daughter came to look through his paintings, and he went to introduce himself to them. I turned to go to another basket to look through his work, and I suppose it appeared as if I was leaving. “No, you, stay here,” he said, pointing a finger at me.

“Yes, yes,” I replied with a smile. The three ladies and I laughed. I won’t go over all that was said between us, because the points that we touched could inspire five more thousand-word blogs. I realized as we spoke, however, that I was standing in the middle of another moment of serendipity. He offered for me to contact him, and come to his studio to learn, or just to talk. I don’t know what I did to earn an interest from him, but I am glad for it.

“I could be sort of, a uh, a mentor to you, if you want.” I greatly appreciated hearing these words from such a kind, talented, and seemingly wise and cultured man. I departed from him with a handshake, every intention to follow up on what he had so kindly offered, and one of his paintings, which he had pulled out and handed to me. “Here,” he said, “a gift, for you.” The name of the painting was ‘Carpe Diem’.

The rest of the day led me to get hit on by some guy selling knives, who had no better pick up line than ‘you have very pretty eyes’, stung by a yellow jacket, which caused me to say ‘holy badword’, perhaps a bit too loudly, attacked by some ducks that don’t like having their photos taken, and maybe a bit dehydrated by the sweltering sun. It was all good pain, however. People with no scars have no exciting stories to tell.

I started trying to title my blog in my head when I got home, as I always do. I wasn’t having much success until I looked over and saw Bjorn’s painting propped up against the wall where it was waiting to be hung with a frame. “Carpe diem”, the soft blues again sang to me. Of course, I had seized the day, and in doing so had gotten the opportunity to seize many more days to come.

Note: The artist’s name is Bjorn Sjogren. I encourage you to utilize Google and take a look at some of his work.

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