I just had one of those gut-wrenching moments that makes me love and simultaneously hate, being an artist.
I went to my office tonight to catch up on some work. However, I quickly discovered that downloading several GIGs of drum tracks was going to make doing -pretty much anything else that involved using the internet- impossible. So, after starting the download I went across the street to have dinner. I figured, killing two hours at my favorite restaurant in the whole world seemed like the best way to handle this 'problem'. Now, I should point out that Indochine is not only my favorite restaurant, it's also a place I've been going to for thirty, yes, thirty years. I first got the burning urge to go there in 1984 when I was a teenager and heard that Duran Duran would hang out there. Having been a HUGE Duran Duran fan at the time, naturally, I felt I should go there, too! I went in 1984 and I never stopped going. It became the place I went on those VERY special dates. It became the place where I celebrated every major victory in my life for three decades. Alternately, when things have gotten as bad as they could be (financially), saving up to go and have a meal there, made all of my problems go away for however long I was under their roof. So, now that I have an office and it's directly across the street, I figured it was only a matter of time before I started going there on my own for a casual meal before, after or during work.
And there I was. Sunday night at 10:30pm. The kitchen was closing in five minutes. Or so I was told by one of the three hostesses, a tall Russian woman. She began guiding me toward a seat at the bar then stopped. "Wow, you look really nice!" she said, suddenly noticing I was in a suit (I'm not sure if the black leather tie was helping or hurting the situation) and redirected me toward a table in the dining room. It wasn't just ANY table, mind you, but the one I secretly long for, a lush, green leather booth right in the center of the room. From that vantage spot one can see EVERYONE in the restaurant and alternately, I suppose, one feels like they are on display like a jewel nestled on a velvet pillow.
I swung into this semi-circular booth, alone... and as I do in such situations, pulled out some paper and a pen on which to draw. I ordered and I drew. On the page before me, Chi-chian began to manifest herself. I had just gone to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit the night before at the Brooklyn Museum (which was unbelievably well presented, by the way) and was sort of startled to be reminded of how much his designs influenced me in the early 80s and 90s. In fact, Chi-chian's 'Biologic' suit is DIRECTLY inspired by his work! I had forgotten that.
And suddenly, there she was appearing on the blank page in front of me. Drawing in pen, there is little room for revisions and it certainly wasn't my best Chi-chian drawing, but it startled me how she began to take shape there. And suddenly I was flooded with emotions. Here I was, sitting in a restaurant I've come to for thirty years. On the page before me, I drew my very first TRUE creation, a woman I gave birth to in 1989 for the very first time. All of those years ago, I instantly fell in love with her at first glance. For decades at this point, I've fought to tell her story, sometimes with minimal success (the comic book series/the RPG/ the SyFi webseries), sometimes with none. And in all of these years I've NEVER EVER found the ability in my hands to show the world the way this gorgeous creature appears to me in my head and in my dreams.
And then there was Jean Paul Gaultier. A friend I had gone with to the exhibit, upon walking in and witnessing the sheer bulk of his work, uttered, "Well, that'll make you feel under-accomplished!" Her words suddenly resonated louder than they had at the show. How have I accomplished so little, I wondered to myself. For thirty years, I've come to this place. For thirty years, I've been aware of Jean Paul Gaultier and felt we shared a similar vision. For nearly thirty years, Chi-chian has existed and yet, it seems I've had such limited success in presenting her to the world. I looked down at the drawing in front of me and was overwhelmed by how beautiful she is to me, whether or not my drawing skills can convey it... and how helpless I feel to do her justice... and I was struck with a powerful desire to burst into tears. It was such a strange wave of emotions... I was moved by her beauty, saddened by how desperately I've failed her and I was suddenly and acutely aware of how my life is slipping away so rapidly. Every second that races past me is a lost opportunity to bring art into the world... to bring Chi-chian into the world.
My eyes welled up but I reeled myself in. Sitting alone at the center booth at Indochine is REALLY not the place to burst into heaving sobs.
I asked for the check, paid and I began to walk out.
Another hostess, a very pretty, young Asian girl stopped me. "Sir, you forgot your umbrella!" I placed my Chi-chian drawing on the podium before her and returned to the booth where I retrieved my umbrella as well as the leather gloves I'd bought the day before. As I was walking out I attempted to make small talk.
"Thanks!" I was still feeling shaken by whatever strange emotion had gripped me at the table. "I guess I don't REALLY want to keep my umbrella or gloves as I seem to leave them behind within a day or two of buying them." She simply smiled. I saw her eyes glance down at the drawing and I suddenly noticed that she had a birthmark just above her lip in the same exact spot Chi-chian does. Somehow, I was disarmed beyond my usual nature to comment on it flirtatiously.
Maybe it's the nature of the artist to get these strange bursts of intense emotions. Or... maybe it's just a characteristic of being a workaholic.
It's 12:27am. I'm back in the office.