** [ ...The colour, the expression, and the creation. These objectives, staring
back at me like a History of Art, were the only things real to me. ]
** [ Now, as if it were yesterday:
** December Twenty-First, Nineteen-Hundred-and-Eighty-Nine. Four months, and forty paintings later, I stood back from the canvases, stacked against the bare walls, and surveyed the scene before me. Each painting seemed more brilliant than the one lying beneath it.
**The brush I held in my hand had fallen to the floor. Painting had never been so selflessly pursued; so recklessly endeavored. Number Forty, still upon the easel, stood in the center of the room like a lone exclamation point. ]
** I was weak with the notion of creation, spilling about me. My sight had narrowed itself completely.
** There had to be a disturbance in the air itself, before I could awaken to anything else; a shift forward, propelling me toward what only fate could grant.
** Then, bending down to pick up the fallen brush, I heard the clank of the old Otis Elevator down the hall and the footsteps coming, closer still, down the hall and the eventual knock upon my door...insistently, pounding [“Steven.. Steven, are you in there.”], followed by a rustle of paper.
** However, it was only after the footsteps had receded back down the hallway, I would awaken fully back to consciousness. I swiveled my head to the door, and my eyes fell upon the single white sheet of paper, which had been hastily thrust beneath it.
** The voice at the door was Ian Rodgers’. The note was addressed to me:
** Dear Steven:
** I know you’re home. With very little luck, both Cee-Cee and I have tried to get in touch with you, over the phone. The telephone company has informed us that your phone is off the hook.
** In any event, I’m sure you realize Cee-Cee’s Holiday Party is coming up.
** Be there, Steven. You won’t regret it.
** Please come to the party...hope to see you before the next Decade commences. Be at Cee-Cee’s, Eight O’clock sharp, December Twenty-Third.
** Talk to you then.
** Hope all is well.
** Cee-Cee, sends you her love,
** ...”Cee-Cee, sends you her love.” That was Rodgers’ way: The indirect message-carrier, flinging someone else’s love in your direction as if the tipple of his communication were devoid of any friendship on his part; as if he’d stepped aside and let his wife speak for him. It was the classic, loving, distance of the Mentor.
** In my right hand I held my brush; in my left hand, Rodgers note. All I could feel, all I could connect with, seemed abundantly far away.
** [I’d spent four months out of touch with human voices; only now, was I beginning to see what my absence had wrought. Inside of Rodgers’ note I could decipher the detachment I’d mustered in order to give myself fully to my Work. Each line was a testament to the loss Rodgers felt; each word of his note, capturing the essence of his confusion. I could read his detachment from me:
** All the questions he’d left out, the questions he’d ask the next time he saw me. (The ability Rodgers had of disengaging himself did nothing to solidify my already delusional isolation. I felt, quite frankly, euphoric,yet guilty, in the same moment; just a small twinge, nestling itself, for later acknowledgment.)]
** Of course, the note was written by Rodgers; however, as I stood there, after four months, wearing my paint-spattered smock, it seemed what I’d read was the annoyance of one who’d been asked to bestow this invitation upon me.
** I was too distant. I couldn’t trust Rodgers any longer; couldn’t trust him with the impetus I’d felt, the creative spark. I wanted to step away, without any undue judgment, from my friend and Mentor.
** Was I jealous of his success? (Wait a minute, Steven, I thought, isn’t it a kind of “good” envy I feel for Rodgers’ success? It isn’t jealousy, at all.)
** My head was doing flip-flops. I needed to bathe, sleep, and eat.