Happy Memorial day, everyone. I hope you took the day to meditate on themes of sacrifice and patriotism, in whatever form that takes. For us, that meant going for long walks around our sunny neighborhood, picking up groceries on foot in the wagon, and grilling out in our backyard. The kids are asleep, the dogs are power napping on the living room carpet, and the parents are catching up on chores. Well, not me. I have to crank out a journal entry first.
Sip. I last wrote about the St. Charles fine art festival weekend on Saturday. Still zapped from a whole day of manning the booth, I feel like I covered the bare minimum. Now that I’ve got a full night’s sleep in me, I hope I can bring out some vivid details from the recent memory.
Marissa’s booth was a cube shape box with a gently sloping roof. She removed one of the heavy plaster walls so she could hang a few more paintings on the outside wall. We sat in some comfortable movie set chairs in the corner beside her square reader and her packing supplies. At 9:45 before the crowd started to trickle in, Marissa walked out the front and pointed her camera in my direction, snapping some pictures. An artist from a nearby tent sauntered over.
“You know, if you’re taking pictures for applications, I would remove the chairs and supplies first. They are picky about that kind of thing,” said the woman, tipping her head back to meet Marissa’s eyes from underneath her wicker sun hat.
At that moment, I was out of my chair, bending my legs and puffing out my chest. The judges will never notice our chairs and shipping supplies in the corner, as long as I was holding my provocative Yoga pose.
Marissa nodded and thanked the woman for her advice, holding back laughter from my childish gaffe. I moved out of the way so she could get a good shot.
We spent most of the weekend in that booth. I brought my computer, but I didn’t take it out once. We spent most of the time sitting there with smiles plastered on our faces watching people cross our path. Most people get the silliest look on their face when they are walking through a gallery. Their eyes look glazed over and they stare upward dumbly, kind of like the way you might stare at a Dairy Queen menu at 1 in the morning. Their glassy eyed faces were on full display for us. I felt like an animal in an exhibit. When my face got tired of holding a smile, I affixed my mask so I could secretly frown for a while - just to give my smiling muscles a break.
I snuck away from my chair and casually joined a line of people touring Marissa’s booth. I crossed my arms. I gave Marissa a tired, polite smile as if I were a stranger, then stared up at her sign with a dumb look on my face. I mouthed the words Astuary to myself and shrugged, then lumbered away.
Occasionally, Marissa got up out of her chair to straighten out the paintings that had been made crooked by a gust of wind. She turned and remarked, “is there an app that would let me arrange the paintings in the booth ahead of time? It takes a lot of time to coordinate the sizes with the colors.”
“You mean something where you could just like click and drag thumbnails around and plan out where you want to put things?” I asked. “Yeah, I bet I could figure it out.”
Marissa’s booth was part of a long line of white tents that stretched along a closed street. We were in the center of the action, tucked behind an outdoor eating patio in downtown Geneva.
Though we spent most of the weekend sitting in her tent, we got out to see some of the sights. We went for walks, letting one of the volunteer booth sitters watch the shop for a while. St Charles has a lot going for it. The town is clean and walkable. Two bridges extend over the Fox river, leading to shops, pavilions, and pubs.
The streets felt lively at night. Marissa and I were reminded of how it used to feel to stumble around downtown Wheaton on a hot summer night back in college. Our bartender at D&G’s brewery said it best - “living in St. Charles doesn’t suck.”
On the last day of the show, we had a logistical nut to crack. Our pickup window to collect Ollie and Ziggie from the Rockford boarding facility was between four and six. We had a rental van, a car, a puppy, and two kids. I took Rodney, Miles, and Minnie home first before the festival was over. Enlisting the help of Sarah and some friends she was meeting, we schlepped the puppy and two kids six blocks to our parked car.
We drove. Our car engine roared while we crossed empty dirt roads. We didn’t see a single car for miles. Just vast fields of young corn, and occasionally a cow or a horse. Rodney was kind enough to point out every one for me, so I didn’t miss any.
Meanwhile, Marissa had to pack up the tent and load everything into the van herself. She would find us hours later back at the house. With the boys in their pajamas, we took one final late night drive together to the other side of town to drop off the van. Our cumulative energy level was low. Thank God we had a day off the next day.
Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone.