Thursday, November 7, 2013
A few weeks ago, before Daniel left us, I turned off Neil Young and took a break from the gross, nasty, buggy, dark, damp, crumbly garage/studio, which I am very grateful for, and sat on the front porch talking with Daniel. I hadn't washed up, I was still wearing my paint-and-pastel-smeared-apron and my fingers were black with pigment. We watched as a shiny black pickup truck slowly passed my house, backed up and stopped at my mailbox. An elderly black man got out and said as he approached my front porch, "I bet you're the person I'm looking for." "I bet I'm not," I responded, figuring him to be selling something. "I bet you are," he said. "I bet I'm not," I repeated. "Did you put some things out last month during garbage amnesty day?" he asked.
In September the city of East Point, Georgia, held its bulk pick-up amnesty week. Twice a year you can put anything out on the curb for the garbage collectors, anything they would normally refuse -- broken appliances, furniture, mattresses, whatever. I was warned by my neighbors that the night before the pick-up, locals would scour the streets, stop at the piles that might hide something interesting, and load their vehicles with new treasures. That evening I had joined Mike and George (my next door and across-the-street neighbors who 'planted my vegetables,' installed my security light, trim my hedges and repair my lawnmower) for drinks as they watched to see how long it would take for their broken power tools and a cat-destroyed leather chair to disappear. From my window later I watched as people picked through my crumbling compressed wood-fiber office furniture and discarded old paintings, the ones I didn't have the heart to destroy.
He shook my hand and introduced himself; he was Bruce, he and his wife live several blocks away on Neeley Street. He could tell, he said, that I was the person he was looking for because of the "hasn't-been-cleaned-in-a-year apron" I was wearing -- I had to be an artist. He had rescued several of my paintings in September, one was an almost 20 year old painting of two ladies working in the kitchen, which now hangs in his house and he loves it. The other paintings now reside in his friends' houses, one of which lives on my street. He wanted to thank me, and with sparkling eyes, he did. "I believe in divine intervention," he said. Bruce joined Daniel and me on the porch and glowed as he talked about divine intervention in his life, most lately his successful battle with cancer. Now he and his wife help AIDS sufferers by printing and selling t-shirts; they purchase groceries for the needy person with the profits. The man had a message of joy which made both Daniel and me cry. Almost like an angel we thought.