I awoke. The light streamed slantwise through louvre style blinds across the double bed for one. Groggy and reaching for the iPhone, I knock over the wine glass. It falls and hits the carpet with the thump of a cat paw. At night, I have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer or a cup of bourbon as I process the day and read after I’m done writing. Right now, I’m reading Gunter Grass. Peeling the Onion. About memory and of course complicity in being a part of atrocity. I am a part of atrocity too. I am in a democracy that waged war that we still try and pretend is WWII, but that is another story. I am a part of an atrocity that supported coups and death squads. I am part of an atrocity that colored the world with red, white and blue watercolors and will make you feel like a piece of shit for not supporting it.
I was the loud American. But that is another story.
I am a dad. I am a single dad. I am an artist who schedules 10:00PM to Midnight to write, drink a glass of beer and finally hit the rack with the head a buzzing with words or so exhausted when Friday hits, passes out sitting in the chair because I won’t stop at midnight and push the edges of my own darkness. I am an artist who takes an old film camera into oilfields and will lay on the dirt to get a shot of a ball of cable, a set of broken steps with no house, a pump-jack pumping or stand on the roof of his truck as oil hands stream by wondering what the fuck I’m up to. But that is another story.
I am the guy who woke with light streaming across the bed. Me and a cat. Me and one of my daughters’ cats. I am an artist. I am a single dad. I will arise and knock on bedroom doors. I will arise and wish I could sleep more as I have always been the guy who prefers to stay up for sunrise and wake for sunset. But that is another story. I will rouse girls from sleep. They will mumble go away. They will want me to forget they need to go to school. They will say go away, but bring me a bagel or an English muffin, or pancakes, or a banana and yogurt, or whatever with juice, milk, water. I will bring it and they will eat in bed and then get up. They will dress. They will fuss about with books and backpacks and smart phones. And as I toast or flip or stir or pour, I will write a few lines. I am an artist after all. I am a writer. I will take some minutes in the morning between the prepping the girls for school and me heading off to the oilfields to write a sentence, a paragraph, a scene…
and then look forward to the Ten to Midnight shift.
I will load the girls in the truck. We will back out of the drive way. We will crest the hill overlooking the sunrise over windmills and a town hammered between the mountains and the desert. I will point and say, “Look at that light. Look at that light. It slants the clouds. Look at the texture of those fucking clouds dragging down the sky. Look at the light breaking out and how it burnishes the mountains. It takes hold of everything in the sky and owns it. Look at that darkness between the sky and the land and how it gives us great swathes of beauty.”
I will say, “On his death bed, Goethe’s last words were, ‘I need more light.”
They will say, “Oh Dad is at it again. What with the light and the beauty and what was that poet and Degrees of Gray, and how its transient quality fills in our souls and kisses the divine. Oh Dad, you will make dorks of us all.”
That is the story.
2 Replies to “Portrait of an Artist as a Single Dad – Look at the Light!”
And someday, Jerry, your daughters will be better artists, photographers, and writers, and see the world in beautiful light, because that is how they were taught.