Saturday, July 27, 2013

How do you thank normal?

We have been in the middle of converting our 2-car garage into my very first art studio which I blogged about in April 9 (Every Fiber of a Woman in Flight)  The project had come to a full stop after the 4" concrete floor was poured late May because the floor was not even close to level and lumpy in several areas - not what you'd expect an interior concrete job should be!  I knew this project was beyond my reach financially but my Mom and husband scraped together what little we had to come as close to a functional and inspiring space for me considering it has to accommodate my wheelchair so I can freely move around.  But when I saw the floor, and after I had searched for why someone I was willing to pay would take my plight so negligently and without remorse expect me to accept it as good enough, I felt worse than this footage from the movie Inception.  This was after all my ultimate dream;I felt shattered.
Get the idea?  The surreal uncomfortable feeling and exploding floors etc?  It's actually more about the eroding building scene but I couldn't find an isolated footage of it lol!  But what is this nightmare???  What is this distorted world I'm in and why didn't I see all this coming?

Yet there apparently was a twinkling light in this mid-hell I was dropped in.  Our new neighbor who I mainly knew as a talented architect and good family man who is always such an enthusiastic waver which always makes me smile a little bigger, Dave Burris had, from my first casual mention of this project, offered to make me drawings of the studio in trade for a big painting.  He and his wife had recently viewed my art at a gallery and his reaction was "Your watercolors are phenomenal!" You know I meet a lot of "complimentary" people, and truly, in the back of my mind I'm always half thinking they're complimenting the damn wheelchair.  Why?  Because if compliments were sales, I'd be able to afford framing all the big art I'd really like to paint hahaha!  Or if compliments were tickets to success this studio would have been done in a month.

Anyway, I gave Dave an update on the project and he basically responded with a plan that he's gonna make all the nonsense stop.  Long story short, after much research on materials and corrective options, yesterday morning at 7-ish AM, July 26, he showed up with a new crew, prepped the bad floor and 2 hours later the concrete truck arrived and poured a more leveled top coat!  My husband took pictures of the process because he was so impressed Dave was right in the concrete mud pushing the mix along with the 3 other men working!!!!
Hard to see the lumps in middle of original state but it was bad.
I wonder if he could see beyond my big smile; my self confidence was was also being restored.  For months because of this situation and other art related "stories or drama" I've continuously lost faith in dreams and hopes and anything I might have thought were healthy goals and adult professional relationships, and any hope for new friendships.  I've really felt that I was back in the pre-school of life surrounded by game playing children.  I've looked for signs to confirm an inkling that maybe I needed to pay heed to THESE stop signs in my art path.  But suddenly my works have been receiving real validations - a painting I did to escape my turmoil won the biggest award I've ever received and sold that same evening.  Then another painting I just painted in watercolors to cheer myself up also got accepted in another major juried art show!
"Peonies in Watercolor" full sheet
Suddenly people I didn't know approach me in public as the artist who painted that winning piece!  And then Dave did this extremely selfless,SELFLESS gesture. I asked him who was paying for this correction?  I was shocked that a serious crew showed up and a concrete truck and he get got all messy himself! I wondered if his wife shrieked at his sight when he came home! Dave said, "It's all taken cared of, you have nothing to worry about!"  With that, I issued a check to pay the balance of the original crew which I guess Dave had all sorted out as well.

When Dave returned at the end of the day (with his beautiful new baby girl on carrier he had on his back), to check on the floor, I asked him, "Why did you do this?  Why did you take it all on to make it right and for nothing?" Without pausing to think, he responded, "Isn't this what people do for their neighbors? I just want to see you be able to move into your studio!"

Maybe I was that normal grateful person talking to him yesterday, but inside I was drenched in happy tears.  I'm physically in tears typing this.  Every time I allow myself a moment to think about this I feel I suddenly get weak soul deep and ready to collapse from sheer relief.  I feel the sun on my face for the first time after sitting in the a dark cold place for months even though my husband and I have just stepped into another life challenge.  But the foremost question I have is:

Is there ever a way to thank someone for something he thinks is just a normal kindness people do for others even though it happens to be the kindest thing ever done for me by a practical stranger?

My emotions still dizzy from this never-ending roller coaster ride called life.  I decided to stare at my grandma's picture I took of her when she was alive a few years before we had to let her go at 97.  She is my mentor for knowing joy no matter how bad things are. I was always able to make her bust up laughing and this was one of those specific times :) I drew the picture of her I took with the bird on her head as she tried to hold her laughter in hahaha! I have also been inspired by a quote:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive."  ~Walt Whitman
"Joy to Behold" charcoal on paper 9x12
In a way, I'm nervous.  Maybe the big painting Dave has named as my end of the barter is really a giant mural. O-em-gee!  God bless you and all your loved ones Dave Burris!

17 comments:

  1. Erika rocks (and her friends are not too bad) Yay for the new friends and space

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    1. Wow thank you and I agree about friends :)

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  2. I got choked up reading this. So happy for you. I'm glad there are people like Dave Burris in the world :) Thank you!

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    1. Hi D I didn't mean to choke you up but I hope it was for a good reason? Yes, I'm sure there are more DB in this world just waiting to make hope :) Maybe you're one of them ;)

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  3. How unselfish of him. I got all choked up reading this too. What a great example for all of us to follow!!

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    1. Oh no, I'm choking up my readers! Happy to choke up with you LOL and thank you so much for reading. Don't get me wrong, I receive many kindnesses! But this year has been a bit rough and this was much needed :) I wish you friends like Dave Burris!

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  4. Red Luvs CD! You will do a spectacular painting for Mr. Dave, I just know. Sometimes good people just want to do something unexpected for someone else. You and I both have had more of our share of the other less-kind people...who knows? Maybe the less ones, those pain giving ones, are what make us appreciate the good Daves!

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    1. CD loves Red! Yes, there's that rule of nature isn't it? The good, the bad and the ugly truth hahaha But I really thought I've met my quota on the seeing and appreciating by contrast :p

      Ok hitting "reply" on this, curious if your indeed receive my response because you are the only non-anonymous commenter LOL!

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  5. it is nice to know that in this world there are people that truly care and are willing to go the extra mile to help out a friend in need

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    1. It's such a gift to know that they are still around. Sometimes, it I just wonder if they're becoming extinct! And I'm really practically a stranger as I see it. But I know Dave and his family will forever have a friend in me!

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  6. Wow what a great story, and so well told! I really felt the emotional roller coaster, and I'm so glad for the happy ending. Your question - How do you thank normal - is probably rhetorical, but there is an answer. You always have, and you continue to thank normal, by paying it forward, by *being* normal yourself - it is your normal nature also, as well as Dave's, to help any and everyone who may need it. Soldier on!

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    1. Gawwwd you have such a knack for simplifying things no wonder you're my bestie :D Thank you for the compliments and being my barometer for sanity and knowing me then and now. You bless me for being you xox

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  7. I normally don't take the time to read long posts, but so glad I read this one. Thanks for sharing your neighbors good deed. So uplifting to hear!!!!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time Kimberly I appreciate you :)

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  8. What a wonderful neighbor you have! I love hearing stories like this one. I'm glad you finally were able to move forward on your studio.

    I love your peonies painting and the drawing of your grandmother. They are both beautiful.

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  9. Thank you for your post, Erika. Hillary Miller said it all - keep paying forward. Sounds like you are doing that already! Happy painting.

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    1. What kind thing to say thanks so much SMV :)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment ~Erika