Friday, April 19, 2013

Cambridge: a love story

Not going to Cambridge or Oxford while in England, is like going outside at night and not looking at or for the moon. For a long time, both places have had so much importance in my life that when the opportunity to visit Cambridge came up, I had to do it.

I’ve secretly wanted to go to the University of Cambridge for as long as I can remember, but always thought it was just out of my reach due to my upbringing. An over-abundance of people telling me college was not as important as the afterlife—that I should spend my youth helping people instead of wasting money on something which is not guaranteed to propel you forward in life. That coupled with a relaxed attitude toward education in general led to a belief that I couldn’t get in even if I tried. My first year of High School (or college if you’re reading this from the UK) and last ended the same, with close to straight A’s. Looking back, I probably could’ve applied if I hadn’t been so jilted by my upbringing.

Still, with alumni that inspired such creativity in me, individuals like Isaac Newton, Jane Goodall, and Alan Turing, Cambridge’s name alone inspires a level of creativity, that when I stepped out, onto the grounds of Parker’s Piece, I was not quite ready for what I was filled with. Winding alleyways of cobblestone dotted with embedded bronze emblems, tight corners in which I could see my characters run through or away from. Buildings that while they were between two to four stories looked like skyscrapers with carved stone piercing the clouds above. And yet, a delicate lace-work of stone carving within the structures themselves served as a gentle reminder of sophistication, which still roams through the town. I had to withhold myself from taking pictures of everything. I had gone with full intention that I would sketch the world I saw, the beauty which a long time lover’s eyes could finally see. I walked for hours burning images into my brain. The way the water rippled around the gentle bridges over the River Cam. How the trees would sway and heavy branches of spring blossoms kissed the earth, refreshing their souls with the lapping of the river’s edge. And the smells—fresh cut grass—a clean crispness that clears the mind of all other things, leaving only the purist of pleasure behind.

Walking along the River Cam from Queen’s college to the Museum of Technology and back, sights of colourful Narrow Boats docked with potted plants sunbathing on the roofs made for quiet conversation between myself and my companion. However, the ruby, jade, and sapphire floating homes, in which swans and ducks paddled around, made me wonder if this was the sort of place I might want to settle in. A place where culture and tradition runs deeply through its veins and yet a great beer and good company is never farther than a leisurely stroll. It’s not London and oddly, I like that. And while, someday I might go back and finish my Master’s in Fine Art, possibly at Cambridge—I’m glad that I can view this wondrous place though experienced eyes and not that of a budding student. I can fall in love with the history and the now without wanting to prove to the world that ‘I’ matter.

My next adventure, one that I hope to share soon, is Oxford.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Mid-Atlantic Life

It’s been a little over two months since I’ve crossed the pond and settled into some sort of routine. Furthermore, it’s been almost a month since I’ve added a post here. Thankfully the two do go together. I’ve been surprisingly busy. While on one hand I’ve been able to free up time to do what I want, art—the other hand has been busy exploring and finding a routine that helps keep my mind from missing the sunny valley’s and warm weather of California.

Today though, my hosts asked what type of coffee I wanted. “An espresso, Siciliano, Americano?” And feeling, while the sky is a bit grey, my eyes a bit watery from yesterday’s wind, nostalgic; I chose the Americano. But when it came time to fill my single espresso with water I said stop not quite at the Americano fill. “That’s more of a Mid-Atlantic,” they said. Which sums up how I am feeling, I’m still halfway between two countries.

Of course there is a huge difference between visiting another country and actually living in another country. Thankfully, I have built-in friends with my hosts. They’ve been absolutely wonderful in this transition period, especially the few days when I spent them in bed. It was just too cold to move. I’m used to cold weather, but this was a different kind of cold. It was a cold that seeped into your bones and grabbed on with frosty fingers, which no amount of hot showers could shake loose.

Still though, in that time I managed to do some artwork. My mind is slowly working out the twists that have been tied up for years in logic driven work environments. And while the logic is still there, the need to be business savvy I find that the artistic drive which fuels all of my endeavors, coming into its own. The brushes in which I dip into my ink pot soul are wielded with more mastery than I can ever remember. A trust is forming within these skills that normally I’d wash away as a hobby, but now—as more people are actually purchasing my work—I can see that this is quite possibly what I am meant to do.

Another day, another step into a closer routine of artistic pleasure and business success, each day a clearing of cobwebs and negative thoughts, all the while trying to figure out if this ‘Mid-Atlantic’ lifestyle is one that I want, or if it’s just an experience that will help fill my soul with love, life, and experience.