Choosing to be a painter could have been titled "the analogue way" or "I prefer to work with my hands". It was a conversion, a leap. And it happened while I was in Hungary.
You could say that Hungary and I are now forever connected. My family and I are freshly back from visiting, and I'm already planning our 2019 autumn trip.
Twenty years ago I hotmailed my friends that I was going off the grid, leaving the city of Budapest where I'd been for a few years to then reside in Transdanubia (western Hungary). Spent most of the warm months 2001-02 working on (mostly not working on) this old house that I purchased because of the way it opens toward the south, or as I liked to think, toward the mediterranean 200 miles away. The folks around the village knew it as the Nani Mari House (Aunt Marie). Who was the real Nani Mari and what was she like, I'm not sure, but who was I to call her house something else?
Twenty years ago the cute little nascent internet repelled me. I was high on feeling far and distant, hard to reach. I'd pass the village payphone at the end of the street and my neighbor had a donkey. Water came from the well in a bucket. It was 2001. My idea of the future still meant bad reception. Connectedness was picking up an old friend at the nearby train depot.
Then about twelve years ago, from Texas and out of anxiety that Nani Mari might collapse from neglect, I began managing the renovation of Nani Mari remotely, as in via my smart phone. My distant and romantic edge-of-the-earth getaway was getting bathroom tile, and I was emailing my contractor about our choice of grout. Under the Tuscan Sun, but from my macbook.
I paint portraits of my two children at the dining table as they play cards. Andi is cooking something with paprika in a pan on a gas stove behind me. More alive than I'd ever imagined, Nani Mari saw me through my twenties and into my forties and is one of the closest things to pure dream fulfillment I've ever experienced.