Exposed Walls

Phases and birthdays.

I read somewhere that we grow in nine year intervals. And that if we turn our birthdate around it is where we are in a phase of that decade.

Sound confusing? yes..

SO if I am 59 today as I write. Am I actually 95 ?

Well this year has certainly had its times, that I felt that age. And if this theory works I should be excited to know on my birthday I will slip into the pink sneakers of a six year old.

Now that is exciting! Sure is making turning 60 in two months, an adventure to look forward to. Now, I just need to clean up the dust and the layers of dust stuff laying around.

I don’t need to take any of that with me on my new aqua bike on my 60 year old ride down a steep hill. Arms out wide, no hands.

My first bicycle was the same colour turquoise. It was the best day ever when I got that bike. I still the feel the most free while riding on a bike. The feeling of coming down a really steep hill, the hot summer wind in my hair and the sun on my face. Thinking of a really good root beer popsicle. So cold you can hang it off your bottom lip, frozen to your skin in a sugary pinch.

That very childhood bicycle was stolen. I was devastated. It is interesting to note that the father of the boy who stole my bicycle and wrecked it, re-payed my mom with a very sad looking barely plucked dead chicken.

The boy was from the Hutterite family that brought farm goods from Alberta to our small community. My mom explained to me that he did not have a bicycle, and so he wanted one so badly, he took mine. He did not mean to wipe out on it and bend the front of the bike and of course my shiny chrome wheels. My mom explained that he did not have as much as me. She explained that I must take the chicken and be ok with what happened, and to be kind and to forgive.

Now, I knew my parents did not have the money to buy me a new bicycle, and I knew the chicken would not repay me for the loss of my beloved bicycle.

But it is funny that I still remember the story, as I must have been maybe only five years old. To be kind is the lesson I received. I think now that the most important part of the lesson to me was to be grateful. To ride your bike, or love those in your life right now. As things change on a dime, and a really good roast chicken is a great meal with those you love.

In life people will disappoint you, yet to know that so many have less is a very good thing to remember, especially in these times. Including generosity of heart and humanity. To be generous, or grateful is not always in all of us. Sometimes we just need more to fill us up than we can even think to hold. And in these times, we are all tested.

It was not the last bike of mine that got stolen. It happened to me again as a teenager. And again, after my bicycle disappeared, the wonderful new bike I received from the mother of my best friend, was a gorgeous teal blue. I was ecstatic, as my parents were going through a hard time and replacing my bike was low on the need list. It was amazing to be gifted something of such value.

It was a fancy new ten speed, and to be given this by someone that new I needed that bike ride more than anything, was my first lesson in receiving.

It is hard to receive. Much emotion and shame is tangled with that “need” vulnerability. But the gift was given with open arms and heart. I learned love, from my friend, who I know asked her mom to buy me that bike.

I am astounded that life always comes back to a return.

That same best friend died a sudden tragic death. Her mother gave me the touring bike my friend had used to tour Canada. She thought I would want it to remember my friend when I was on one of my rides. The Bicycle was bright orange and I never used it. It sat in my shed like an opportunity to ride again with my friend was just waiting for me to pump up the tires.

I was a young mother at that time and the bike was again a gift in a time of my great loss. That bike stood for memories, for loss and for healing. For watching my children grow, and riding the road again with my young daughter and son.

I hoped to teach my children to maintain their childlike wonder always as they grew and again to remind my self that life is so fleeting that you must take those long rides with those you love.

Today, I have a turquoise electric bike.

It is pretty and fast, and it was one of the things that went with me during the fire evacuation this summer.

It was tucked safe in storage and it has finally made its way home.

The bike is like a ribbon to my life.

The friend always waiting to spend time with you. Like art is to my soul, a bicycle is my wistful thinking. My childlike wonder and my 16 year old defiantly brave young woman’s steed.

I am turning 60, my turquoise eyes have deep laugh lines and my wall time is now more studio time. I am sharing my wall stories in a project called “Exposed Walls.”

So much has fallen like dust on the first 60 years of my life. The summer of fires in the Okanagan burnt away any needs to control what I thought I was afraid to lose. The things, the stuff or the trophies. It is only about my people that I want to share time with. And those people are just all down the road eager to spend time with me.

I did not take any art with me when I was evacuated. Why? Because I know I can make more.

I took my pets, my pictures, my dads guitar, my dead dogs ashes, a piece of broken citrine and my turquoise bicycle. On the return, the walls were washed, the house was hosed and the walls were exposed and made clean for new adventures.

Follow as I return to those old walls and tell the stories of the people and the art of that formed my life and the time spent on exposed walls.

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