Notre Dame

I started this Hahnemühle Watercolour Journal in April 2018.
Last night I finished it processing the grief of the day,
the grief of a year of sadness in many ways.

Mitchell told me in the morning
he had an alert from World Heritage that Notre Dame was burning.

I saw my first images in the morning, and wept.

All day I had to come back to it while I worked…

It wasn’t until after Mitchell fell asleep that I was able to process it,
sketching and painting by the small light next to our bed.

Artists and writers process what is in their hearts best
while sketching, painting and writing.
I wrote, and threw the colors in my head onto paper,
watched them dry into the odd shapes and mixes,
some looking like ashes, then began my sketch.
As I tried to find a way into this amazingly complex building in a simple manner
that would be feeling not architectural, I wept again.

I was 24 when I stayed on the Île de la Cité…
It was my first time in Europe, and it was Christmas Eve.
My girlfriend wanted to leave the USA for the holiday because of a breakup,
and asked me to go.  Fortunately I had a passport I’d never used,
and luckily we found a B&B fifth floor walkup or who knows where we would have slept.
We went for two weeks and stayed for almost three months and I almost never came back.

I had not looked forward to France, particularly.
Nothing about it had ever called to me.
But when I stepped off the train at the Paris-Gare-de-Lyon,
I turned to her and said, “I’m never going home.”
I fell in love with the smells, the sounds, and the people.
It felt as much like home as Laguna Beach; I was enraptured.

The trip changed my life.
Outwardly, it took me out of the push push push to achieve and
eventually I left practicing architecture (though one can’t not be what one is, either.)
I shocked my family with discussions of not coming home,
sublet my apartment, said bye-bye to clients and a boyfriend,
told Welton Becket (architectural firm) to find someone else to take my place…
I ate like a Parisian, walked, lost weight… two months…
sometimes taking excursions out of the city, only to return quickly.

But much more happened inside as I relaxed into a different rhythm,
one far outside my family patterns.  My life changed.  I changed.
And when I did come home, my priorities for life changed…
Some of those changes you see in my blogs.
Though thankfully Becket had not replaced me!
One has to eat!

Last night I realized as I sketched and painted that I also grieved
for the people whom I loved and who are gone…
For a me that was once and is not more,
though the me that is has her as a part, not the whole.

Of course, if I had not returned, if those people were still around,
I might never have met the love of my life,
might never have painted, might never have…

Notre Dame was part of that time, always within sight
in the city that changed my heart.

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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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15 Responses to Notre Dame

  1. Maggie says:

    So beautifully touching.


  2. Dan Antion says:

    It’s such sad news, Kate. It’s great to see something that isn’t a photograph – I think you convey the emotion.


  3. Heide says:

    This is so beautifully written, Kate — such a personal and lovely tribute. I came to the île de la Cité much later in life than you did, but it forever changed me too. I join you today in grieving, and in hoping for a resurrection. (Isn’t that what Easter is all about?) Big hug …


  4. Mary Lou says:

    Kate, this is such a beautiful sharing! I’ve been thinking of sketching some of the photos myself. This sketch is beautiful and so meaningful. (I was thinking the Virtual Sketchwalk might want to sketch the cathedral too.)


  5. emeraldsun33 says:

    Thank you for sharing that about Paris. I’ve never been, and like you, haven’t felt pulled to go – but now I’m intrigued.
    Well done and touching tribute to Notre Dame and to Paris. I haven’t been able to put into words yet how those images have effected me.


  6. Sherry Felix says:

    I also have memories of living in Paris long ago and visiting Isle de Cite. Losing Notre Dame is almost like losing my past. So sad. We all grieve.


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