I used to think that my artistic work was just about me. About where I had been, who I had been with, what I felt, what I had seen. But now I understand that in addition to all of those things, my work is also so much m ore than that. Its the hobbies of my grandparents. The way my great-grandmother came across the ocean from Greece knowing hardly any English. Its all of the things my parents taught me and the values they instilled in me. My work goes further and deeper than just where I’ve been the last few years.
Moving back to Maine after seven years out West, with my partner and our cat and what belongings we could hold onto, was not something I had pictured when I originally left. Of course, I had also not pictured going through years of deep grief and abuse, or conversely learning how to dye fabric and launching a successful business. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect, no matter how hard I tried to control my path. The farther I tried to stray from “home”, the stronger the pull was to go back.
In the seven years I was gone, a lot of things changed. and not just within myself. My grandmothers both passed away. Other pillars of my family passed away. My brother and his wife got married, had a baby, and made me an Auntie (she’s now over a year old). Deaths, marriages, births, the whole structure of my family and extended family changed. My parents sold the house I grew up in and built a new house in the woods. I lost track of some friends, while others stayed by my side even from afar.
Through all of the distant changes, here I was: traveling through the desert. Searching for something and trying to find a purpose. Forgetting and remembering who I was. Learning about my past lives., connecting with things that would take so long for me to understand. And I don’t look back at the desert in haste. I was able to spend time in some truly incredible places, see landscapes and sights I never thought possible, meet some great people, and eventually make a life for myself. For all of the things that I lost out West, I gained just as much. I just took the long, winding, and dangerous road to get there - and it eventually lead back here. Where I grew up - where it all started.
When I left Maine in 2014, I felt as though I’d used up all my lives. I had exhausted my options. I needed a change. And I was so uneducated in the world, in how things worked, in the ways that I would need to help myself and be my own advocate. Through these years, the only thing that stayed constant was my work. In some seasons I made and sold quilts underpriced so that I would have just enough money to cover rent, and in other seasons I was lucky to have every batch of hand dyed fabrics I made sell out within an hour. In between those seasons, I learned a lot the hard way. I was 34 years old when I left the only home I’d ever known for Los Angeles. I was 40 years old when I left Arizona, where I had half-haphazardly ended up.
Returning home at 40. What a humbling and interesting experience. I had been so lucky to have generous friends in Arizona to catch me, to fall back on like family. To offer the types of support that would help me get to the next step. And to have blood family here in Maine - my parents, brother, aunt - to return to - is something I know not everyone has. How fortunate I am to have real and adoptive families that love me. How strange to think at one point I wanted nothing more than to leave that behind.
I don’t blame myself for needing to get out. To find adventure and see what lies beyond state lines, beyond time zones. The lure of the desert was strong. So many people romanticize the desert, but it is more than palm trees and cocktails by the pool. The desert can be a tough and harsh place - much like Maine in the winter - requiring a change of lifestyle just to survive. The desert taught me how to be strong in ways only it could. How to suck the toxicity out like snake venom. How to revel in a rainstorm during a drought. How to flower like a cactus despite the needles. The desert found me in all of my lowest moments and offered me solutions, if I was willing to take them.
The DUST in DUST + WAVES represents the desert, WAVES obviously my ocean home (and subliminally I think all the waves I had to ride to get back here). Both places inspire me, still. I’ll never regret my time in the desert. I’ll never regret leaving Maine, nor coming back.
And so here we are.
On the edge of starting over. The harder parts will come once we are ready to buy a house and start our little homestead, but it will take us a little time to get to that point. We still have a lot of money to save up and plans to make.. My partner needs to get a job, and I need to decide if this business can support me/us or if I too will re-enter the dayjob workforce. Right now I’m not missing working in a hospital, even though thats where I found myself for the last dozen or so years. With Covid and all of the craziness it brought, being able to rely a little more on my business was that push I needed to try to take this to the next level. It may not be instant, and I’ve certainly put in a ton of work over the last month while we have been settling in at my parents’ house and building up inventory for this big launch… I expect to work hard, and I am at my best when I’m doing so. But I will also be at the mercy of my customers to keep this alive online while I’m not able to do local markets etc. It means a lot of late nights building this website, a lot of long days dyeing fabric and sewing in zippers and planning product.
But I feel good about my re-branding. Apriltwoeighty Quilts served me well over the past 10 years. Using my birth date as my business name felt appropriate at the time, making it all about me and who I was. Now that who I was has changed, I’m happy to start anew. It feels right. Looking ahead with so many things that I’m proud of. Thats all I ever really wanted, and its only the beginning…