Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Day in Boston

My husband is gone 25% of the time from February through mid-May. Shortly after he returned home from February's trip, I learned the Embroidery + Embellishment class I'd registered for at the RI School of Design was cancelled. I was feeling sort of...desperate is a good word, desperate for something of my own in the midst of all this hard work of keeping everything running smoothly with no help during all this travel of his, and I asked for a day before the next trip arrived. I wanted a day during which I was responsible for nobody's needs or wants save my own--no school work, no home work, no lunches or dinner. He checked his calendar and came up with some options and yesterday, I took the commuter train to Boston to visit the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, my objective being to sit somewhere beautiful for a while with no responsibilities.

Absolutely no photography is allowed within the confines of the museum, not even without flash, not even in the gift shop, so I have no pictures of the museum itself to share with you. It's an interesting place, though, because its items are from the collection of Mrs. Gardner; she also had the museum built and arranged her collections the way she saw fit, and then stipulated that nothing could ever be changed. It is a collection frozen in time--and this is why, after the shocking (still unsolved) theft in 1990 of several works, the empty frames remain hanging on the wall. The rooms can seem overwhelming; on the other hand, small delights are found everywhere. And in the center of it all is a courtyard, the place I remember most from my last visit to the Gardner, in my early 20s. It's warm, even in winter. Fountains trickle, green things grow, there are places to sit upon and just be somewhere beautiful, with no responsibilities at all.

I sat on a ledge and sketched. (I increased contrast on this photo since my pencil lines were so light; only pencils are allowed in the museum.)

I took my time wandering the rooms, looking at what I wanted to, not having to deal with anybody else's hunger or need for a bathroom or boredom. In the tapestry room I was drawn to this small silk scarf. The room is enormous, with huge tapestries everywhere, but I ended up kneeling before this small bit of silk, trying to sketch the tree motif.

(Even with increasing the contrast, that sketch is still hard to see.)

I was able to take my time in the gift store, too. I was hoping to find some postcards with images of lace from the lace cases--yes, cases of lace collected by Mrs. Gardner. How I wish I could have taken some pictures. The lace was gorgeous. You can get just a glimpse of the cases at this link. But the store is only about a year old and they haven't added any lace images yet--although I hope they do. However, the store is one of those gift shops that feels curated itself, a collection of carefully chosen items. It was lovely to browse for as long as I wanted. I bought a few things, too.

The card shows one of the stolen paintings, Chez Tortoni by Manet. The book, oh my, the book. It's just filled with images like this:

And this:

I want to embroider them. To my eyes--my biology-loving, ocean-loving, art-loving eyes--this is a book of embroidery patterns. This book had to come home with me. Of course!

I had some time before the train home, so I sat in the museum cafe and ordered the only appetizing-sounding gluten-free item I could find, a shockingly expensive bowl of mixed baby greens. But they made up for that by having really good coffee and a flourless gluten-free chocolate cake, and I ate it all, every last bit, except for the raspberries, because I do not like raspberries, but I do like flourless chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and a bit of whipped cream, and I don't mind sitting by myself in a cafe, reading a book and drinking coffee.

When most of your time and head space is given over to thinking and doing for everybody but yourself, a day alone is so, so necessary. I have requested, if possible, a day to myself in between all his business trips. I'll start dreaming about where I'd like to go after he's back from Thailand and before he leaves for Belgium...


Lori said...

love hearing about your day. love the book!!! and how great it is that you asked for what you needed and it is making a difference. xoxoxo

Michelle said...

Good for you!!! I love the sketches. And the book...yes! It has you written all over it. Can't wait to see what you're inspired to create!

Glad you've put in future requests, too. Sometimes, our greatest challenge is learning what we need AND learning how to ask for it.

Karen Isaacson said...

oh, what a dreamy delicious day! I love the Gardner. And that book looks amazing. In fact, it looked somewhat familiar. I just realized I have a picture on my phone of the cover of a book that a friend owns - one of those "take a picture so I don't forget to look it up" pictures. I just went and found the picture and sure enough - it's "Haeckel's art forms from nature".
gorgeous stuff.

Anonymous said...

i went there in 98. I spent hours there. I could picture you sitting somewhere beautiful. Great choice for a day out and great plan to have more days like that for yourself.

Anonymous said...

i went there in 98. I spent hours there. I could picture you sitting somewhere beautiful. Great choice for a day out and great plan to have more days like that for yourself.

Cameron said...

Yes! A perfect day!

I think one day between trips isn't too much to ask :)

Donna Lee said...

Recognizing the need is the first step. It's what will save your sanity. I'm just sorry it's only one day. But what a day you had. It sounds like a perfect place to just sit and absorb some beauty.

Rose Red said...

Sounds like the perfect day. I love those days, where you are completely free to do as you wish. They are rare, but so important for maintaining sanity, I think.