“Oh my god, what is that smell?”

That was what my daughter said when she came into the kitchen. I had just put away the Never-Dull.  My favorite Japanese garden shears had rust spots, so I had spent a bit of time rubbing the spots out. And the smell of the Never-Dull brought back memories. Sitting on the deck of the Jubilee, the 75′ sloop that I lived on for  a year, polishing the rust spots off the bright work.  Cleaning the brass fittings on the sole.

There is a set of connections that I don’t know if I can draw correctly.  Let me just dump them out and see what it looks like.

I had a conversation in which  Never-Dull made its appearance just last week. A former student of mine, my advisee when she was in 7th grade, returned from NYC. She is a student at Cooper Union and  an accomplished visual artist. She spent the last year as a stewardess on boat based in Florida. She pursued this after she remembered my presentation about the year I lived on a boat. The previous year at school, in the wake of her father’s death, she was given a studio space at Cooper and turned loose to work. She said that with so much space to work she was paralyzed. She had no idea how to begin or sustain a studio practice. So she ran away from it to sail for a year. I remember the email that she sent me when she hatched the idea. How would she go about finding such a job?

And after a year with NO SPACE to call her own she felt she now knew how much she needed her own studio space, no matter how small, as long as was hers.

And today where was I with my can of “magic wadding’?   I was in my kitchen after being in my garden, the things that I craved after a year on the boat.  I picked peas and greens today.  I laid waste to forest of bind weed and other weeds.

I know what my student experienced: the freedom of few belongings, the joy of meeting new people and being new places, the exhilaration of the passage.  AND the longing for roots, the fear of a solo watch, the need for a room of one’s own.

The rust is off of more than my garden shears.

Image by Bob Jagendorf

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    I would say in your case Katie, it was not so much fear of a solo watch, but fear of a solo watch in pea soup fog, with navy carriers blocking radar with the result, solo watch sailing blind…

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Yeah, that was a high point of fear. It was really the course correction that intimidated me the most. I was never afraid on the passage across the Atlantic – except maybe afraid that I would push David overboard. Would that have been wrong of me?

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