Living out of a Suitcase

suitcase 6
Fishing Louisiana Waters
You don’t choose a life Dad. You live one.
Daniel (from the film The Way)
A friend shared this film with me while I was traveling, and the central message continues to percolate in my mind.  When confronted with the choice, I believe I have lived my life more than chosen it, especially with all my changes over the past couple of decades.  The film is anchored in the plot of one’s personal odyssey, and I’ve viewed my own life since the 1970’s as an odyssey rather than a career choice. And I have lived a life with few regrets.
Since my retirement began June 3, I’ve embarked on an odyssey.  Although not planned, I have now lived out of a suitcase for thirty-one days, beginning with my trip home to St. Louis to visit my parents and siblings. Returning to Texas to find my A/C not functioning and my living temperatures hovering around 92 degrees, I began staying in hotel rooms and with friends. After a week of that, finding out that an A/C technician was not coming anytime soon, I then set out for a trip to my Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas and living quarters in the old store where the owners (precious friends) let me live when I need a place to crash.
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The Gallery at Redlands
crockett
A Store in the Wilderness
I love The Gallery at Redlands, now housing the biggest collection of my personal work. And evenings living in the old store out in the wilderness are too exquisite to describe. The quiet is intoxicating for one who tires of city and suburban noise. I’m always deeply grateful for time spent in this part of the state.
With still no word on an A/C appointment, I accepted the offer of a friend, and next journeyed over into Louisiana for the first time in my life to spend a week fishing the waters of southern Louisiana and spending some time exploring New Orleans. The fishing was filled with excitement, especially when a seven-foot gator visited me during two of my excursions.
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I was live-bait fishing from a dock, and twice over the two days, this enormous reptile drifted across the waters and hovered about twenty feet in front of where I fished, eyeing my bobber in presumed amusement. At one point, when the bobber began bouncing, he grabbed it in his jaws and submerged. I felt like I had a Buick on the end of my line, and reached for a knife to cut it loose, but then the bobber drifted back to the surface as well as the gator, who then hovered a while longer and watched before drifting away. This is the first time in my life I’ve seen a gator outside a zoo.
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I could never successfully describe the sensations that overwhelmed me once I entered the French Quarter of New Orleans. The sounds of live blues and zydeco music pulled me from steamy, sultry Bourbon Street and into the air conditioned dark interiors of some of the most exciting clubs I’ve ever experienced. My sketchbook was with me, and I still struggle to capture the human figure on paper, especially when the subjects are not posing. Bobbing and weaving musicians are a challenge, but I felt very much in my element as I struggled to capture their essences. And the music cleansed my soul in ways I’ll never adequately describe. Musicians are usually flattered to see someone drawing them and always gracious in their assessment of the quality of the sketches. In fact, the day after, my cell phone rang (I always give out my business cards), and it was one of the guitarists wishing to purchase my sketch. We made a business deal over the phone while I sat in the cemetery sketching and he was on the road to his next gig out of town.
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Cemetery off Canal Street
I have seen pictures of New Orleans cemeteries, but wasn’t prepared for the deep feelings that seized me when I looked at acres and acres of land strewn with thousands of above-ground monuments to the deceased.  John Donne’s Meditation 17 was in my ears:
The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. 
cemetery
I made a number of sketches in the hot sun that morning, and felt a profound connection with the ones honored with these monuments as well as the loved ones who had them erected.
At the time of this writing I am back on the road.  My A/C will not be looked at until next Tuesday, but thankfully the gallery in Palestine and store out in the country are available for me to “roost” while I await repairs.  Meanwhile, I intend to continue enjoying the journey.
Thanks for reading.
I create art in order to remember.
I journal when I fee alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.
 
 
 
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6 Responses to “Living out of a Suitcase”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    Did John Donne write this with a capital C or a little c for the word “catholic”? I suspect the latter. Its a superb quote, I shall use it. Thanks. Enjoy your enforced holiday sometimes they are the best. i would love to go to New Orleans…. one day!

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      I pasted this from the Internet, but I’m pretty sure he used the small “C”. If not, he should have! I’m glad you liked what you read. The entire meditation is worth pondering, if you haven’t read it all. There are many, many lines from it that send me into the heights, but I kmow if I posted the entire text, it would diminish for the readers. Thank you, always, for your kind comments. I’ve adjusted O.K. to this “enforced holiday” and am a little more relaxed, probably because I know the issues are about to resolve. Yes, New Orleans is worth the visit–hope you can do it some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. doubledacres Says:

    You are so gifted my friend. Well written. You are an inspiration.

    Like

  3. Margie Whittington Says:

    Thank you, David, for sharing your thoughts, drawings, emotions and journey with others! I’m sure your ac wil get fixed eventually but you have made a rewarding experience out of an inconvenient situation!

    Psalm 32:8, 119:35, 143:8-10.

    “Vast quantities of time and energy are wasted in obsessive planning. When you let Me direct yours steps, you are set free to enjoy Me and to find what I have prepared for you this day. ”
    From a daily devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

    Margie Whittington

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Margie, for those glowing words. I am now on the Long Road Home, expecting a repairman to show up later today. It has been an interesting month, for sure! I am just glad I managed to get some creative things done, instead of grousing.

      Like

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