Thursday, September 24, 2009
A meeting with the Pope.
So i got an email a few weeks ago saying that Mike, one of my best friends, was coming back to the states for three weeks. I hadn't seen him in about 8 years. Of course I had to drop everything and drive back to Des Moines and hang out for a few days before he went back to Hong Kong.
It made me start thinking about my past and how being away from everything I once knew makes me question what I really know or believe. Since I was going back, I thought what the hell, lets go back... way back.
So on Sept. 17th. I got in my truck at 8:00 in the morning and began the drive 14 hours north west to Des Moines, Iowa alone. It gave me a lot of time to think about what I was going to see and how I might feel. At 40, my conscious thoughts of Des Moines and Iowa are equal to my time in Atlanta. I grew up in Winterset and Des Moines, but my life started in Atlanta.
I pulled into town around 10:00 pm, picked up my great friend Tony and went to meet Mike, play pool and get caught up. We hung out until 3:00 in the morning before going back to Tony's house to crash on his couch and chairs. Mike said it best the next morning, "if you could forget for a second about the last 15 years, the fact that we live in different states and countries, forget about jobs, relationships, all of it... nothing has changed". It was the most pathetically wonderful thing I have ever heard and he was right.
So we decided that since we were going back we needed to catch up with our old neighborhoods, family and friends. We had the idea to have lunch with our High School art teacher. Without a doubt, one of the most important people in our lives. We took her to lunch at the Winterset golf and country club, which sounds really posh on a blog. but we ate pork tenderloin sandwiches and sweet potato fries and began to get caught up. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a fresh breeze.
The last time we saw her she was still teaching art in Winterset and we crashed her class, which was always fun. She is in a different place in her life now as she is teaching kids with special needs. When I look back she always had, some were just a little more special and some had more needs. But you could see the joy on her face that some of her favorite students wanted to spend an afternoon having lunch with her, and genuinely wanted to know how she was.
I also went by the Des Moines Art Center where I worked for three years before cutting my finger off in their tablesaw while installing a Warhol show. I love that museum, it is everything a museum should be without trying to be something it isn't. It has an amazing respect for the art it collects and for the architecture that houses it. At a time when so many museums are stopping short of rollercoasters and bears riding bikes, the DMAC pulls out an Isa Genzken or a Rita McBride. Did i mention it is free?
The DMAC was also recently given a collection of outdoor sculptures that were being installed in a 4 acre greenspace downtown. I had helped John and Mary Pappajohn install 12 of the original sculptures on their property before I left Des Moines 15 years ago. I worked on the Kelly, Serra, the Smith and others. but it was wonderful to see them in the publics eye. Now the Pappajohns have given a true gift not just to the DMAC, but the city as a whole.
After two days of reconnecting with my roots, on Sunday morning I got back in the truck to drive home. Driving back through the countryside, passing Pella's Dutch windmills and the Amish buggies on their way to church, listening to public radio and recapping the weekend in my mind. I couldn't help think about how lucky I was to have the friends that keep you grounded and want to you succeed.