Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

It was finally Show Time, and I was so excited. Not only was I doing a book signing with my oldest friend in my hometown on the East Coast of England, but the book was also based on our childhoods growing up in this fabulous place and boasting the most delicious cover by renowned artist Richard Bawden and inside plate by lovely local artist and fellow South Tower Adoree Theronda Hoffman.

We had a gorgeous gallery booked right near my childhood cottage where we were, also, incredibly, staying for the week. The stage was set for the most special and memorable time. It’s amazing when wonderful things, that take some intense planning from across the world, come together and we were both so proud to be showcasing our special story! It’s also lovely when you can be proud of yourself once in a while!

Because my oldest friend Lizzie had literally just got off the boat in Vietnam from her Round-The-World-Clipper Sailing race and flew home and I had literally just got off the plane from Cali to London, it was all hands-on deck with the zoomies to open our show on time. I arrived at Heathrow after a 10-hour flight with eight-hour time difference and immediately jumped in my rental car — a super Subaru SUV, I might add — in the pouring rain, navigating road works and traffic from hell, all the time wondering which side of the road I was actually supposed to be driving on. There was a rather frightening time when I found myself bombing off in the wrong direction and then had to reset my brain and get back in gear. Note to self — do not drive yourself after such a long journey across the world! You are not in a fit state to be on the roads!

I made it safely without incident to the East Coast on a quiet Tuesday afternoon and rushed to the shops to buy necessary supplies of milk, coffee, tea. I would shower, unpack and enjoy a dinner out before the madness started in earnest. A delicious dinner of smoked salmon and fish pie was later enjoyed with a glass of Riesling in our friendly French café we love to frequent. It took me about a day, but I was home.

The following day there was some madness followed by more madness. I had shipped 250 copies of our book to a friend’s house, along with a case of wine and glasses for our Private View event. There were posters that had gone separately, also some copies of my mother’s artwork. I was on a gathering mission to discover that there had been some confusion — the friend was away on holiday and someone else was watching her house. Tried to contact replacement friend. No, she was away too, someone else was watching …. I was a little afraid I was going to have to break into someone’s house to get our supplies for the exhibition, but over the course of the day my blood pressure eased, and all boxes were located and delivered to the gallery for set up.

My friend Lizzie and her husband arrived in the evening, and we began getting the lovely Courtyard Gallery ready for showtime, followed by delicious fish and chips — a must for the belly and soul. It was so wonderful to see our show posters up in town and to realize that this was finally happening. At 11 a.m. the following day, we were up and ready with our exhibition boards out on the streets for all to see.

Sharing the gallery space with a lovely friend, local artist Theronda Hoffman made the show even better, since she was well known in town for her amazing paintings, as well as sculpture, ceramics and more. Plus, she has the most divine personality, and people want to come by just to visit with her. Before I knew it, I had already purchased another of her gorgeous pieces. So, we weren’t doing the show for the money exactly, were we!

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. may not seem like a long stretch of time, but it was quite tiring, chatting to lots of people, signing books, chatting to more people. It was also really fun, hosting a beautiful gallery like that and visiting with the local folks who came by. Since this was my mother’s town too when I was young, not to mention we were showcasing her artwork on the walls, I really felt her there with us. The private view was 5 to 7 p.m. on the Friday and many local artists and friends gathered together with the wine and nibbles, coming by to see what the competition was doing and cheer us along. I felt a part of something larger than me, always a good thing!

“So good to have our exhibition before Easter weekend!” I said to someone. They looked at me in rather confused fashion. “What are you doing for Easter?” I enquired of my friend. “Oh no clue. Haven’t got there yet!” “Ha, you’d better get with it, missy,” I respond. “It’s right here!” I spent the entire week talking about Easter weekend being the end of the week our exhibition was closing, and no one stopped me. “Getting ready for a busy Easter?” I asked the bar man. He looked a little befuddled. At the airport, I remarked to the airline staff, that I was sure things were so busy because of the Easter weekend. I was a bit surprised at the time that she didn’t reply — I was just making polite conversation and she thought I was nuts.

I am not sure exactly where I got a hold of this Easter thing and ran with it, but I’m sure there are still folks out there celebrating a weekend early. For crying out loud, why can’t Easter be a set date, like the other holidays? I do know the reason, but it drives me potty, and this year I was way ahead of the game — so much so that it took getting back home to the U.S. and inviting my daughter over for Easter Sunday dinner a week early that I was stopped in my tracks and informed, in no uncertain terms, that I was trying to make Easter a week early. Gosh I had such a chuckle to myself over that.

It was a nice cold and cough that set me straight and put my feet firmly back on the pre-Easter ground. Those are nice gifts you can gather this time of year when the temp can range from the 40s to the 80s in the shake of an Easter basket and you are doing a lot of traveling. Hey ho. Must now get ready for the real Easter and dig out the chocolate gifts I had purchased for last weekend. Some things you absolutely cannot make up!

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].

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