I’m sitting here in the loft of our house — our bedroom/office space writing. The sun is setting out my window. An especially favorite view of mine is a hill that rises in the window with sparse junipers crazily clinging to its sides and an almost always blue sky with a gray cloud cover juxtaposed against the grass — browned and yellowed with the harsh frosts and winds.
Paul is busy painting. We’ve arranged the table so we can face each other while working. He’s just about got his website put together and his paintings look incredible. I can’t wait ’til it’s up and running.
Robin and Jason are over, but we’re not eating, drinking, laughing and chatting as usual. For years, we’ve sat around the kitchen bar, “dreamlining” — discussing what we hope to accomplish and how to accomplish it while our seven daughters — their three red-headed ones and our four blondies play in uninterrupted bliss. It’s like Greenwich Village, family-style. We discuss poetry, religion, politics, and how to change our world with the arts — in our homeschooling, bohemian way — but instead of a kitschy, smoky cafe full of intellectuals, we’re trying to bloom our families in the isolation of this lonely, high desert.
Finally, we get tired of talking about things and decide to get to work. Which is why I’m here writing about us, while Paul paints, Robin croons with the guitar and Trog (Jason) jams on the bass. Bassa nova and jazz notes float up, sultry and sizzling, and I think to myself — right here, right now, is where I want to be.
“That was something right there, wasn’t it,” says Robin, after finishing a stretch. “That was about superstition, wasn’t it?”
Jason retorts sardonically, “No, it wasn’t,” he says. “Let’s throw that out.”
Robin says nothing and strums out Bach’s Ave Maria — while Trog figures something out.
Robin moves into a bassa nova number. The strings plucked expertly sound smooth and sexy. Jason and Robin sing a bar together for a moment, then stop.
“K .. we need to learn the Portuguese translation for this,” Robin says. “I think pause about pause … throw it away, pause, throw it away, pause, live your life, give your life …” Stop. “We need to listen to this again,” Robin says. “I wanna play that.”
“It’s three bars of F,” Jason says.
“I think about the life we live,” Robin sings in her rich, sleek voice.
The bassa nova fills me with a mixture of hope and longing, triumph and sadness. “Throw it away … throw it away… live your life, give your life …”
Then, the two of them play — this time with Robin strumming and Trog singing the bass notes to go over the rhythms.
I think how well this music expresses who we are: souls searching for expression, filled with hope, rich with the deep happiness that comes from making the sacrifices in all the right places, sacrificing — not out of fear — but out of a yearning for authenticity — knowing that sadness and sorrow and hope deferred, if embraced with patience, can bring a greater truth — a life lived well.
I look at Paul. He looks the part of the cafe intellectual with his cap from Italy, glasses, and casual, mis-matched clothes. A half-finished painting of cows grazing amidst Quaking Aspens in the winter is propped against the wall. Perhaps you picture the classic style of realistic western motif that clutters the walls of so many places around here. But Paul’s work is completely unique — it’s never a landscape; it’s always a portrait — this cow, this tree, this house, and the stories in it, the ghosts that live there, the tragedies and triumphs, the sufferings and day-to-day strivings. Somehow, every one of his paintings feels epic.
I feel the quickening of my heart with the beats of the bassa nova and the picture of my husband painting locked away to be treasured when this time is long in the past — I will look back at it and think this, this, this is life.