Some of you may already know about Kaleb’s cruise ship adventures a couple years ago. When he first took the job, I have to admit, I was really worried. I never saw myself being in a long-distance relationship and I was concerned about the strain it might put on us. I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it definitely was not. But I do feel like it helped make us stronger. Obviously, he still takes jobs where he has to go away from long periods of time. He’ll be traveling for at least a year with the 20th Anniversary tour of Rent come September. But now it doesn’t seem so hard anymore. Especially now that he’s actually on land, and not out in the middle of the ocean all of the time like when he did Rock of Ages.
One of things that was so hard for me, when he first set sail, was the idea that he was getting to travel without me. I know that sounds really selfish and it is. I have a very complex relationship with traveling, because I simultaneously want to always be exploring new places and hiding in my bedroom under my blankets at the same time.
As an artist, I crave seeing new and beautiful places with new and beautiful people and new and beautiful landscapes. And as a normal human being, I generally crave the excitement and adventure that comes along with traveling. But unfortunately, I also suffer from deep travel anxiety. I consider myself very logical and down-to-earth, but all of that goes down the toilet when traveling is involved. I will always expect every possible thing that can go wrong to go heinously wrong. I will be convinced that I will, in fact, miss my flight even though I leave almost three and a half hours early for the airport. The airline will certainly lose all of my luggage even though it is obnoxiously neon blue and you can’t miss it even a mile away. I will most definitely get stomach flu right as I am boarding the flight and be doomed to the airport bathroom the entire travel time while angry passengers bang on the door waiting their turn. Even anxiety aids do little help me through something as modest as a four hour drive to Boston.
This creates a real struggle in terms of making travel dreams come true. But it’s something I’m working on and I’d like to say is getting better. But you can understand how this kind of anxiety caused a lot of depression, especially at a time when Kaleb was getting to see so many great sights and we were separated for so long. During all of this is when I came up with an idea of how I could satisfy a small amount of my travel cravings and get some much needed art therapy at the same time.
I had some watercolors stuffed in my desk drawer for years that I rarely used, and I decided I wanted to hone my watercolor painting skills a little. I’m typically a digital artist, and if I am using traditional media it’s usually oils or gouache, but never watercolor. In school I learned that if you’re not used to a medium, it’s best to start small. So I started this very small series of landscape studies. While he was on the ship, Kaleb and I weren’t able to talk on the phone, so our way around this was writing to each other. We wrote every week and when the ship docked on Sunday’s we would exchange letters. So once a week I did a new watercolor study on a 3″ x 4″ and slipped it in along with my letter. I couldn’t travel with him, but I could paint as if I were. (Does that sound lame? It’s fine.)
I picked a new place for each painting and honestly, just did my best. Some of them were not great. But it definitely helped me practice my watercolor skills and it made me feel a little less claustrophobic in my little New York City apartment. They’re not perfect, but I rarely do series in any form, and I enjoyed this these little adventures and wanted to share them.