Touring the stalls of the Round the Fountain Art Fair, I was transported to times I had made the laps with my daughter. Silver jewelry, funky collages, exquisite paintings captured our interest. As an artist herself, Stella took in more than me. I watched her more, swelling with pride as she spoke with the artisans. I saw my little girl, growing into a woman. One stall in particular captured her interest: the picture of a magpie, key in its beak surrounded by stolen items. It reminded her of her time in South Korea, a purchase she had to make.
Yesterday I walked back into time, back into the stall of this same artist. I purchased my own bit from her, a block of wood painted with funky designs describing a love of travel. I felt connected to my far away daughter. As I was paying, I mentioned the magpie purchase many years ago. She remembered my daughter, remembered their talk. She asked where she was, how she was. I pretended I knew. Like the magpie, I only have stolen bits of information, bits I keep closely guarded lest my treasures disappear.
My grandson accompanied my friend and I on this outing, was really too tired to go yet it was too early for a nap. He quickly became bored although he enjoyed asking the first 5 or so artists if they had made the creations in their stall and then issuing a compliment. “I really like what you made.” “I really like your stuff.” Soon discovering dogs to pet, ledges to climb, he found freedom from touring boring things he wasn’t allowed to touch. We moved too slowly for him, he pulled us faster than we wanted.
My friend, K, who met us there is one of the last my daughter has allowed contact with. K is my closest friend from college days. A friend who heard all my old secrets, knew my mom, sees my soul. My daughter knows K well, Stella knows she is a safe person to allow a little flow of information with. Stella meets her on the bridge of Facebook sometimes. I didn’t realize K had taken a picture of my Plum until it was done, didn’t know her intention. Later she sent it to Stella, poking the bear a bit. I was on the edge the frame. K also sent me a picture of my granddaughter, her mama on the edges as well. Her scrunched-up face took me back to images buried in a chest upstairs, images tucked in my mind. Another little girl I had known so long ago. I found them, made a collage, sent them to K. Maybe she sent them on, baby pictures Stella doesn’t have. A history she has cut off.
I sensed the tug of time at the art fair. A bridge between generations, allowing the next child to explore art and this one to pretend for a moment we can go back. I searched for sadness all day, came up empty. I found a sense of peace, a letting go that comes from traveling to a new place and finding something familiar there. Just enough to keep me grounded, not enough to bury me. I watched my Plum climb on ledges, jump off without fear. He rolled down the grassy hills, walked barefoot and wanted carried. He was free among the creations, crossing the bridge between buying art and living it. I traveled to the art fair and carried home new memories. The magpie can’t steal these, stored up in my heart.