Get Rid of the Fence
I was sitting in the lounge by the big window, and an easel was standing next to it. I bought this easel from a friend who flew to the United States and hadn't a penny to her name. She was an artist, a talented and starving one, and needed something to start her new life with, but refused to take charity. Reasonable. I bought her easel for 350 shekels since she was planning on leaving it behind. I used it a few times, but painting always came in third place amongst my loved ones and didn't get enough creative time. The rest of the time it hid behind a closet and did nothing with its potential. Years went by, and when T and I returned to Israel last November, he needed one. I gave him mine. The easel was excited to get back to business.
T stood in front of it, examining his painting's first layer with a pencil in his mouth. It was a vast field in Prince Albert, South Africa, where we lived for seven weeks. I remember the picturesque view because it framed itself through our window in the study and was seen from the attic's balcony. It was a dry and deserted field. On the horizon was the small house of our host, the Dutch farmer, and the Swartberg Mountains. I loved seeing the mountains from the house. Trying to describe those mountains' beauty is like attempting to explain what a vortex is without using your hands - I know it's my job as a writer, but you have to see it to understand.
In front of the field stood an avenue of thin-stemmed bare trees, a fence made of iron rods connected by barbed wire, and a wheelbarrow. T's field was not as barren; he revived it with tones of pinkish-brown that I had never seen before.
He asked for my opinion. Immersed in my writing, it took a moment for me to realise what he was talking about. He looked at me with the pencil in his hand, a glass of wine in the other, and the easel by his side. T seemed smaller. His old easel in London was short, always balanced on a pile of books or a shelf. In South Africa, he built his own wooden easel, taller but thin. This one was large. I guess T stayed the same size; only his easels grew. Like a tree.
The first layer was dry, and soon T would begin mixing his oils. He'd stand there, detached from me in a thousand shards in a completely different time zone, where an hour could be a minute, and a minute could be a few days. Maybe that's how he sees me writing.
I told him to get rid of the fence.
I said, I think I miss Prince Albert. I wanted the Earth to stop rotating suddenly, and everyone would fly a few countries forward. That's what his painting evokes in me.
T drummed on his thighs to the music's beat, noticed me and asked if I was writing. I smiled over my notebook. I find myself writing at the most random times lately, and making sure my notebook is always within reachable distance. This notebook is also packed with books to read, ideas for my novel, character names, random thoughts and mom's recipes.
He returned to his painting, the brush finding its way again between his teeth. His eyes examining the painting in front of the window, although most of the sun had already set. His apron stained with paint, his arms as well, and slowly, he approached the colours. Not hesitantly but respectfully. He whistled along with the music, took some yellow paint from a tube and mixed it into his palette.
Stephen King calls the writing process "telepathy" that breaks down space and time dimensions. Could it be that in five hundred years from now, our connection to the citizens of Mars could be intact by reading our books in the heart of the desert, out of books bound in soft metal? They will read about earthquakes, epidemics, and world wars while enjoying the dusty atmosphere and know what led to its destruction since they learned it in Earth-class at school.
I guess all forms of art embody a kind of telepathy. Here I was, looking at T's artwork, and in my head, I could see a multitude of worlds. The history of T's easels, Prince Albert, my writing habits and even Mars. What a great form of communication.