Laura Fortune

Life Learning

Marrakesh (March 29)

International Travel, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

Today I flew to Africa. I imagined something more wild than NYC with pushy people offering rides.  There were only a couple of men outside with signs at one of the most beautiful airports I have ever seen. 

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The ride to the Medina was quiet.  I asked my driver if helmets were mandatory for the motorcyclist, the query stemming from the sight of disheveled hat positions—almost like they were mocking the law.  As if the driver spun a helmet in the air and let it lay were it might. 

We sat in the van waiting for my assist to come take me to the riad.  I felt very Foxtrot Tango—but I was embarrassed.  Tourists stick out like neon signs.  I sat in the van watching a group of kids picking up a dead rat with a piece of paper and move it around from place to place like a garden gnome, and stepping back examining the best spot.  I mentioned they placed it outside the drivers door, thinking he might step on it if he left the car, but unphased, he explained what came to my understanding is that it’s spring break for the kids.  Gone wild—the little boy handling the burrito rat cleaned his hands by spitting in them and rubbing them together.

Marina showed up and rode her bicycle next to me as I walked to her riad.  She speaks no English and me, no French.

I forget the need to be direct.  Being indecisive and polite makes no sense anywhere but in the southern part of the United States.

“Would you like me to walk you to some shops and restaurants in the Medina?”

“Sure, if it isn’t too much trouble”

“Sure if you have the time and nothing else to do.”

“Yes.”

Thank god she did.  She stopped and made me look around at turns.  Directed me in a way I remembered.  She dropped me off at a lunch spot where I sat with half of my body out of the shade and burning in the Moroccan sun.  Halfway through my lunch a large butch Arabic lady sat across from me, cargo shorts, backwards baseball cap, a friend of the worker at the restaurant.  She told me how to eat with bread and use only my right hand.  Told me about her hammam and offered me a cigarette.  She seemed disappointed when I asked to pay for my meal, so I could relieve the left side of my body from the sun.  Heartbreak in the Medina.

I weaved my way back to the riad insecurely remembering Marina’s instructions and advice.  I was getting close and one advice was to avoid talking to a group of kids if they ask if I need help.  I passed them playing soccer, “ma’am, ma’am, where are you going?” I answer, “no merci” and keep going towards the direction I think is correct.  Two of them run up to me and say I am going in the wrong direction, and that gives me pause to stop and think.  Just as I remember I am correct these two boys have taken my lead as if they are now guiding me.  These two little dudes stand in front of my door blocking it so that I cannot use my key or enter at all.  They are asking me for a present for showing me the way.  I tell them to move, that they did not show me the way.  It goes back and forth for a bit and I get weirded-out for this possible future tax to enter my home so I give a stern, “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.”  Their eyes widen, they step aside, but they are no older than 10.  It was the first and last time I was bullied on the trip, but I continued to notice the fearlessness of the young boy that inhabits all young boys universally.  Note to self.

This trip is going to be an experience like non-other.  

Visually it’s one of the most stimulating places with oddities and all types of strange happenings, scenarios, people, and circumstances.  It’s stimulating from the mix of old world and time travel, and for it’s textures, layers, colors and monotones.  I am uncomfortable with picture taking – people aren’t tourist attractions – but I wish I could capture some of these weirdo moments and layers of life that are all around.

Two days later, I got up very early before daylight to catch the first train to Fez.  As I was leaving the riad, I heard what sounded like a fat old man snoring outside our front door.  I opened it slowly as not to startle the sleeper, but no one was there.   Only a very small cat, which from the sound of it has been on a two-pack a day regiment for 52 years.  Damn dude.

I walked in the street lights to catch a taxi and somewhere between last night and this morning I decided I could live in Morocco for a time or make regular trips here.  It's intriguing, the handcraft is spectacular, the colors, the food, yet all the gross parts feel familiar and comfortable, I've lived in filthy neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  But this place is infinitely more peaceful and rich with beauty.  

Let's Rewind (to October 2016)

Moving, Art, International Travel, Life Learning, Portugal, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I had always wanted to travel more.  I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited.  And waited.

One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon.  I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.

I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself.  My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.

I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern.  The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.”  I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.

Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth.  I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel.  Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival.  The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling.  Like a love feeling.  I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too.  I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time.  I had never wanted to be somewhere more.

 

On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.

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On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.

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In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.

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On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.

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January One

Moving, Studio, Roadtrip, Life Learning, FamilyLaura FortuneComment

Last night on New Years Eve at 6:15pm I drove away from Brooklyn.  

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I love that black Jeep. It's been good to me, and I weighed it down with my crap for this trip to North Carolina. My mom Googled the swaying motion we experienced after hitting any bump in the road, it was referred to as "the death wobble." Alright, no thanks. I pulled into a 7-11 and unloaded some of my heaviest equipment.

If any one needs an anvil or forming stakes, there's a garbage can in West Virginia I know about with a great view and some good tools.  

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I took a little trip.

Illustration, International Travel, Life Learning, Moving, PortugalLaura FortuneComment

I have spent the last two weeks traveling through Spain and Portugal.  It was my first time traveling solo internationally for that length of time, and I have to say, I don't know how I will ever want to experience travel any differently.  There was so much quiet time for me to just look and listen and observe people and to think and write.  It was the most special time I've ever had and it has opened my mind to making travel as much a priority as making artwork.  There are pleasures we all find in life, and these two are topping my charts.  

I've considered that prior to social media and online photosharing, we used to have friends and family over to our homes and pull out a dusty slide projector to show our boring vacation pictures to our loved ones.  I'm going to spare you the endless line of colorful architecture and beautiful farmlands and ocean views, and I will just post a few of the watercolors I painted while on this little trip.  

 

 

Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.

  

Trashed

Jewelry, Art, Life Learning, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I finished a piece that I had been working on on-and-off over the summer.  The pendant is about the size of a mobile device, on a long chain.  It's interactive as the thumb pushes right and left and a trash can pops out on each side.  I'm not going to go into how I have researched this idea (dating in NYC and online), although, this blog might be more interesting if it turns in that direction...hmmmm, I digress.  

I've retired from online dating, after a particularly bad date, much like I stopped babysitting when I was 16 after an awful episode that ended with itching powder being poured down my shirt.  The type of moment you throw your hands in the air like George Costanza and yell, "THAT'S IT!  I'VE HAD ENOUGH!"   

I have had quite a bit of experience in the matter, and I found that with online dating and dating in general, I am either dumping someone or getting dumped.  Not in a heart-wrenching way, in a "you just aren't for me/I'm not that into you/ghosting" way.  But there still was a lot of trial and error and a lot of trash cans.  So swipe left, swipe right, it's all about dumping.  I'm into it, the trash cans, not the online dating.