|The heart with a mind of its own.(Be present.)||The mind with a heart of its own.(It's past.)||The dream that is your waking life.(Go there now.)|
Most of the things in that photo have been destroyed somewhere along the path of their creation. That is how evolution works, don't you know? Great abundance is meant to be balanced by great destructive forces.
What I really want to talk about is my return to the studio.
I left the studio before I left for Japan. I don't remember what it was like when I left. I don't even remember packing up my things there. I do remember that before I left a friend asked me to do a commission piece for her and I agreed but then quickly backed out of the deal when she turned on the spigot marked Control Freak. (I don't do commission work for a reason. That reason is because then I am the only one with access to the Control Freak spigot.)
Fast forward to my return home and to my attempted return to the studio:
When I came home from Japan, it was about as pretty as expected. I was exhausted from a year in the frenetic belly of the dragon Tokyo, from a year spent in a culture where I was the odd man out, where I had lost my ability to speak, where I was illiterate and often helpless. I say all that and I also know that I would go back in a heartbeat because it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. But as good as it was, it still took something out of me. Fate had also torn a large bite out of my family. Both my grandmothers had died while I was gone. My younger brother also died unexpectedly. I wasn't able to come home for all those funerals--grief over my grandmothers' deaths, I wrangled in private, alone and away from all my support systems--but I did manage to make it home for my brother's funeral. I was able to get away for a week and I stoically returned to work when that week was finished.
What I'm trying to say is that I came home with bags filled with grief. I had not anticipated its additive effects to the culture shock and the depression over leaving a job and a city that I loved.
I also came home to nothing, no job, no apartment. One friend offered a place to stay--Dave did not, but I kind of shamed him into letting me stay with him anyway. He wasn't happy about it, of course, and he let me know as often and as loudly as possible. Yes, I should have moved out, but I felt like I had nowhere to go, and when I suggested at one point that my older brother might let me live with him, Dave asked me to stay. But it was bad. Once, when I was particularly needy, I appealed to his sense of friendship and he quite plainly informed me that he didn't consider me to be his friend. I don't know how I was able to withstand that, actually, but I did. I needed a place to live and I was keenly aware that beggars had no right to be choosers.
One thing that Dave was glad about was the return of what I call his "+1 Performing Monkey."
Ah, the +1 Performing Monkey. That would be me, of course, or at least me in my role in certain parts of Dave's social life, the parts where I am expected to show up to Dave-related social events and grin like an idiot and trot out my oversized personality and make with the entertainment like a little organ grinder's monkey. Everyone seems to like it when I do that. I hadn't always minded the role, but it was more difficult when I was loaded down with grief and culture shock and the inevitable depression over leaving a job and a country.
I found it hard to climb back into the +1 Performing Monkey suit and I ended up alienating some of Dave's new friends. The two most notable examples happened when I stood up to a misogynistic comment made by one of his adoring coworkers and again when I chastised one of his friends slash professors for rudely interrupting me. Dave was livid that I stood up for myself, that the +1 Performing Monkey suit anymore fit me so poorly, and he was not shy about expressing his anger.
But this was about returning to the studio, wasn't it?
Dave of course never left the studio. In my absence, he had been promoted to a teaching position and he was very popular and very well-liked, and he enjoyed the work and the admiration of his students and I thought it might be a nice thing to return to the studio and that was my mistake. Dave was so angry at me that he did everything possible to make me feel unwelcome; He was cold and dismissive of me and my work. I actually didn't work long, just enough to turn out a handful of pieces most of which I didn't finish. He had been using some of my supplies, but when I went to retrieve them from his shelves, he got angry. In his mind, I had no right to be there and I was invading his space and he made sure I knew it.