‘Life is like climbing a tower: the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.’ William Lyon Phelps.
One of the many paintings taken from sketches made during the twelve years I lived and worked in Wales. Large watercolour/gouache.
It was April of 1996, when my daughter Christie and I were standing on the steps to the American Embassy in London waiting to get Christie a replacement passport. It suddenly occurred to me that thirty years earlier, in January of 1966, I had been in exactly the same place waiting to pick up my visa to visit the United States.
In that moment I was able to look back in time at the younger me with detachment and compassion and at my daughter with a sense of wonder.
In 1966, I had no idea what a huge adventure I was about to embark on – So many experiences and changes were to occur that I could never have been creative enough to imagine, including the birth of my two children in the United States.
Tangible evidence of two major changes that were to come. My son Jarrod and daughter Christie….This was taken in my Westtown, Pennsylvania studio in 1978:)
So why the United States? In 1965, after finishing art college, I married my first husband in London. As a young boy he had visited family in the States, and having loved the experience, wanted to return. We agreed on a two year visit.
On January 28th 1966 we set sail from Southampton on the SS United States liner. Our final destination was to be Key West Florida.
The SS United States liner in 1966
After what was one of the roughest crossings on record – causing me and just about everyone else aboard to be sea sick….we arrived in New York Harbour on the 3rd February. As we glided under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, I had no idea that one year later, I would be returning to New York where I would be living in a cottage on Staten Island overlooking the Harbour.
The Verazzano-Narrows Bridge – spanning the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn.
After disembarking onto the shores of Manhattan we took a yellow cab to the bus terminal and then a Greyhound bus to Miami. From there my husband’s uncle drove us to Key West, the most southern point of the United States.
A greyhound bus in 1966
Still feeling queasy from the Atlantic crossing, several weeks later I was to find that I was pregnant. On 10th September 1966 – almost exactly nine months after setting sail, my son Jarrod was born in the brand new Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
As time moves on I believe more and more in fate. Had I known that I was pregnant prior to leaving the UK – I would never have travelled at that time.
Jarrod about three months old – Florida. – 1966
I have begun the process of writing my autobiography which has given me cause for much reflection.
Yesterday, I met with a friend and we talked about how I would tackle the book. The answer is that each chapter will be a vignette, a stand-alone story. For example, in this blog I have given a very brief overview of this particular period, when in reality there is so much more to tell.
During the past fifty years since I made that journey – not only has my life changed in ways that I could never have imagined…..but our world in general has changed almost beyond recognition.
As I continue to climb the tower of life, the horizon continues to expand and for that I am extremely grateful.
I close with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life – watercolour.