Every year I indulge in a secret relationship. This year, it’s with a sculptor.
Brian was irresistible. Sandy blond hair, an old grey tee shirt, comfortable looking jeans, the guy had the look of an artist who was successful in his work and comfortable in his skin. A nice catch.
My husband and I met him one afternoon at a craft fair in Santa Rosa about two hours from our home. Gary was taken by a marble machine Brian was demonstrating and engaged him in conversation. I was drawn to him too, this good looking guy who blurred the line between art and science and fun, who had created pure whimsey from metal and air. While we talked, I learned that by a remarkable coincidence, Brian lived just a few miles from us. Gary took his card.
That night, as my husband slept, I crept out of bed and searched his jeans. No card. I went through his wallet. Still no luck. Finally I slipped out the back door and went out to my husband’s truck. It was cold outside, and the icy concrete hit my bare feet like a shock. I opened the truck door, and there, in the console, was the sculptor’s card. Silently I grabbed it, crept back upstairs, stashed it under a pile of laundry, and slid back into bed, my absence unnoticed.
The next morning, Gary left the house early, and as soon as he was out the door I reached for the phone and retrieved the card.
No phone number. What kind of businessman, I thought to myself, doesn’t put his phone number on his card? I could google him, but the problem is that Gary and I share one screen, one email address. It’s a situation that makes illicit relationships complicated.
That afternoon, I headed to the local library and logged onto the internet, created a new anonymous email address and left a message for Brian. I hoped he would remember me.
A few hours later my cell phone pinged. Bingo, I thought, it’s Brian.
And I was right.
After a few back and forth messages, we had a date. I drove south to Kelseyville, twenty minutes from our front door but through a tangle of country roads that I had never seen. Tucked behind a couple of outbuildings and an old farm gate was the sculptor’s garage, an old barn propped up with worn out wood and a tin roof.
I pulled into the shade of a Liquid Amber, its leaves a glorious tapestry of orange and yellow and red, and walked to the big open door where I could see the shadow of the sculptor working in the back. Through the shaft of sunlight streaming in by the doors, I saw dust dancing in the air and a studio full of welding equipment and piles of metal.
Ella Fitzgerald’s voice sang “do nothing til you hear from me,” an old jazz classic I had heard a thousand times and always loved.
Brian looked up and waved me in, continuing to work. I felt a bit awkward all of a sudden, alone with him in his studio, out in the middle of no where. “Have a look around,” he said. “Take your time.”
I walked around the barn, looking at Brian’s creations. Piles of sketches. A laptop computer with what looked like a 3-D rendering of some elaborate sculpture in progress. Marbles in small metal dishes. And then, a series of small mechanical sculptures, each one an artistic ode to playfulness.
I dropped a red marble onto a tunnel wrought with spinning curlicues and polka dots. Like magic, the little glass ball raced down twirling spirals, dropped from a platform to a plank, caressed a long, precarious curve and then plunked down again to a roller coaster track until it landed on a copper base at the bottom of the piece. I laughed out loud, surprised and delighted.
“This one,” I said.
It was the perfect reflection of my husband, equal parts genius and artistic flair. The ideal Christmas gift.
Brian put down the piece he was working on, carefully wrapped it up my selection and placed it in an old wood crate. He walked me out to my car and I tucked it in the back, throwing an old sweatshirt over the top in case my husband was home when I got there. I gave Brian a little hug and said “thank you.”
He really was a great catch. I drove away with that rare feeling of victory you get when you know you’ve found the perfect gift.