When I lived in Queens and my children were younger and significantly shorter, I lived just around the corner from Triumph Gymnastics. A young woman named Christina from Romania became the new owner around the time I saw a big sign in the windows that said, “Summer camp.”
Summer camp, to a single mother of three, is the equivalent of winning a lottery. Not just the lottery but the motherload of lotteries because having someone else watch your kids during those very long hot summer days in the city, when beloved school is out and no family member lives in town, it is simply wonderful. Camp at Triumph gymnastics was very reasonable, close to home and my kids had a blast.
I quickly became friends with Christina in the summer of 2004. She asked me if I was interested in bartering artwork for gymnastic lessons and birthday parties.
“Heck yes!” Bartering for costly extras for a working artist/mother is second only to free food. I hate to admit it but when someone offers to feed me, and when I say- me- it really means a party of four, I am one happy camper. 🙂
Originally, I painted lettering, graphics and blocked in primary colors on some of the inside walls. On the outside I painted lettering and graphics on the glass windows.
Both of us were happy with the barter. My kids took some classes and had some awesome birthday parties. Aren’t those the best birthday parties? When the mess and the kids running wild are somewhere else besides your place? Plus the fact that the only cleaning up to do is loading up your car with presents.
The years went by. I moved out of my cramped basement apartment in Archie Bunker-land Queens to the land of lawn zealots in suburgatory Connecticut. Christina and I always kept in touch either by phone or text. On occasion I’d stop in to say hello.
Then out of the blue this spring I had several, “Please call me. It’s important!” messages from her. Seems there was a leak on the roof that dripped down one side wall which created mold; and in turn ruined the artwork on that wall. Christina was going to have a big fund raising party soon and she wanted me to come and redo the wall they had to paint over during the repairs.
I redid this side.
I debated whether to take my daughter out of school and bring her with me. She kept begging me the way a ten year old-just about to turn eleven would beg you for something – relentlessly. So at the last minute I brought her. But she had to do homework.
She joined a class of kids her age when they came after school. She was good and tired by the end of the day.
Mission accomplished at Triumph Gymnastics and we headed home.