I always liked Oasis – I saw them live twice as a teenager and had the best navy blue ringer band shirt with their logo…but this isn’t my favorite song of theirs. However it came up THREE times today randomly so I figured it was a sign to use it for this post!
“And all the roads we have to walk are winding. And all the lights that lead us there are blinding. There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how…”
I just came back from one of the nicest afternoons I’ve had in SO many months! In deciding to write a book I have many posts / essays about influential, amazing people in my life (some living and some since passed). One of those no longer with us is my college professor, mentor and friend, Al Shapiro. Al was SUCH a guiding presence in my life at such an important time (ages 18-21) that I really wanted to use my post about him in the book….but I felt it only right to ask permission first. I had met Al’s lovely widow, Julie, only once before. After he passed she gave me an amazing piece of his artwork that I still treasure to this day. After a bit of detective work I tracked her down, she was so gracious that she not only gave me permission to write about him in my book but today we met up so she could gift me two more paintings!
These are Al’s “Denim” paintings; both in yellows and fluorescent acrylics — one, his first ever on tan denim. I hung the first one in the dining room and the second is going in my office but I need a ladder.
I decided to make the drive to visit her on the South Shore solo – I made a quick playlist, grabbed an iced coffee and hit the road. I saw an AMAZING serene stretch of beach called Wollaston (as a North Shore girl I’m not familiar with beaches south of the city!). I got fresh air and sunshine (two things that you forget how much you need until you’re cooped up during a pandemic in winter!). Then I met up with Julie and had an amazing conversation that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
She was warm and welcoming but also totally down to earth and no bullshit – absolutely someone I could see him being madly in love with. She shared with me stories of their histories, passions and artwork. I got to hear her sing the blues on a recording of “It Had To Be You” that totally blew my away – girlfriend is TALENTED. She showed me her favorite painting he did and her favorite photo of him (which oddly enough I had seen on Facebook and saved because he just looked so perfectly AL!) –
Black jeans, sneakers, walking stick, no smile. I like to think he was in the middle of telling a story and she snapped the photo – knowing him he might have been telling someone to fuck off! You never could tell with Al.
Maybe it was hearing the stories from this amazing, smart, bad ass woman on the cusp of reinventing herself for the third time; maybe it was their charming house full of art and and decorations and history; maybe it was the salty air from the beach being 100 yards away… Either way I left her feeling renewed. I’m ready for the next chapter of my life, hell I might even be a little excited (and a lot scared). This isn’t the life I would have written for myself but as Derek reminds me often – “We all find ourselves in lives we didn’t expect”.
Thank you, Julie, for the artwork and the perfect afternoon and for reminding me that reinventing yourself is always an option. 💙