“You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky.
Here’s the picture she missed: It was still dry when I left for the show this morning. Rain was predicted. I overslept, so I left the house without breakfast, and without a raincoat and without putting the bowls and journals in a plastic bag. Rain was predicted by noon, and I would be at the show long before that. Oversleeping always jolts me from REM sleep to panic mode, and I moved through the house multi-tasking–brushing my teeth while making sure the credit card scanner and plug were in the show bag, drinking orange juice to wash down the multi-vitamin while pulling out the car keys.
Traffic was heavy on the freeway, but I moved steadily forward. Suddenly it slowed, then stopped. I changed lanes a few times to no avail. The radio announced an accident 8 miles up ahead, on the stretch of parkway that didn’t have any sensible exits for me to go around the accident. I sat in crawling traffic and watched the rain start.
The show had been underway for 15 minutes when I arrived. The artist parking was full. I drove down the line of late-arriving helpers and early show attendees, looking for a space. I found one far from the entrance. The rain was sluicing down the street, pounding so hard I could not see more than 50 feet.
I parked the car, keeping two wheels on gravel, and pulled the show bag, my purse, and the paper bag full of inventory close to me. The trip should that should have taken 45 minutes, had lasted over two hours. I backed out, popped the umbrella open with one hand, and began to shuffle through the standing water as fast as I could.
It was not fast enough. The bags where difficult to manage with the umbrella, and the rain was driving directly at me. The paper bag broke, spilling $400 worth of inventory into the street. One of the paper bowls began to float away. I bent down to pick it up, and the journals spilled into the street. Nothing left to do but put down the umbrella, open by purse, stuff as many pieces of flat inventory as I could into the bag, pick up what I could in both arms and. . . the umbrella had rolled upside down and was filled with water. I picked it up. drained it as best I could, and held it in front of me to break the rain.
I had to walk almost half a mile to the show. All the shortcuts has been blocked off to keep people from sneaking into the show. When I arrived at my booth I was soaked to the skin, my leather purse was dripping, and water dripped steadily from my chin. Before I did anything else, I turned on the lights, put the bowls under the lights to get them dry, pulled the inventory from my purse, poured the water that had pooled in my purse into the trash can, and dried the outside of all wet packing bags with the booth dust cloth. Once the inventory was taken care of, I unpacked the booth bag and placed the dripping bag in a corner where it could drain. I took out the sales books, credit card machine and calculator and set them to dry.
Only then did I allow myself to race to the bathroom, use paper towels to soak up moisture from my hair, pull off my sweater, wring it out and put it back on. It would still be wet when I arrived home ten hours later.
I dashed back to my booth, where I found two women looking at my work and complaining that there were no prices out. (True, I had planned on doing that when I got to the booth early that morning.) I apologized and quoted prices. And then one of them said the sentence, “”You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky. And I am. I work for myself. I might get wet, I might be cold, but every dime I earned was from items I made myself and the money would stay in my pocket. You can’t beat that.
–Quinn McDonald has since dried out and continues to make notecards, journals and bowls out of handmade paper. See her work at QuinnCreative