Yesterday I got an email from a person I’ve never met in person the beautiful Darlene Tenes of CasaQ.com. She forwarded a request from Catholic Charities of San Jose asking for artwork for their newly renovated space that provides meals to thousands of low-income seniors in East San Jose. The only thing is they needed the artwork in less than 24hours for the grand reopening of the center.
I’m thinking to myself I have paintings that I could share. But to drive to San Jose before work… that could be ugly and I’ll be late for work. I think about it some more and say to myself… “ you have all of this work collecting dust all over the house, you need to get up, get it all together and drive your butt down there tomorrow”. So, I emailed the lady at Catholic Charities and told her I’d be there (after dropping my kid off to school) with a few pieces, copied a few friends to see if maybe I could find other artists interested in displaying art too.
So this morning, I say goodbye to Tim, he’s off to NY again, I print directions, load the car, get Sarah to school a minute before the bell rings (but she is on time!). Jump on 92, then jump on 101 South make my way South to San Jose singing to the radio “like a g6, like a g6”, exit Alum Rock Ave. I come to find the address and there is no 150 Alum Rock… it doesn’t exist! I want to cry because now I am late for work, in San Jose and also realize my phone is dead. Yeah smart one I am, I forgot to charge it last night. Now I am in a state of panic. My phone is dead I am disconnected from my kids, from Tim, what if Sarah got hurt at school? Tim is on a plane and he can’t get to her and they can’t reach me. What if Timmy or Erika is hurt and I can’t get to them because they can’t reach me! What if my mom or dad have an emergency and they can’t reach me… on and on my mind races in a panic. Even though I know the world will go on, if I’m not on the grid.
I try to remember what I did before cell phones… like waaaaay back in high school… find a pay phone dummy. Yeah, yeah that’s the ticket. So, off I go up and down Alum Rock Ave, I pass Calvary Cemetery, then over 680 freeway, still looking for a pay phone. Not a phone in sight. Stop at a light a dude crosses the street in front of my car… gives me the cholo nod, I nod back… s’up? I’m thinking should I ask him for directions? Um, no keep going find a pay phone.
Still no luck. Then I see an older couple walking on the sidewalk. An old man pushing a lady in a wheelchair… I could ask them. I loose my nerve, the street numbers are going up not down, turn around keep driving now I am on E. Santa Clara. Okay now I’m in a real panic… wasted all this time…I’m lost on Alum Rock and now my gas light is on. So I pull into USA Mart on Alum Rock, fill up my tank and there next to the cashier is a payphone! Halleluyer thank you Lord! As I start to walk over to the payphone the lady in the car next to me is staring straight at me. I say “Buenos dias” she responds “que lindo dia verdad?” she seems nice so I respond “si va ser calor hoy” so I ask “Senora, estoy perdida me puede ayudar?” she responds, “Claro que si”, So I show her the address, doesn’t now where 150 Alum Rock is. So I ask do you know where Catholic Charities is? “endonde sirven comida a la communidad? Tengo unas pinturas que les voy a prestar” she smiles, “claro por aqui en esta calle sigue adelante pero no se exactamente donde?”… so I say maybe I should call the lady, follow my original plan and use the pay phone... because my phone is dead. She pulls out her phone and says, “no usa el mio”. I thank her and dial my contact. … 3 rings no answer, then on the 4th ring she answers!
me: “Hi this is Maria, I emailed you last night about the paintings? Did you get my email?”
her: “yes, the event is over but please we still need your artwork”.
me: “um…I’m sorry I missed the opening… I’m lost on Alum Rock”
her… “I’m so sorry I gave you the wrong address it’s 2150 not 150 Alum Rock”… “Maria, where did you say you are at?”
me: “umm at USA Gas Mart”
her: “I’m staring right at you, I’m right across the street kitty corner, look up see me in the grey Acura?”, I’m thinking “Yes! There is God!” I see her wave and I hear her voice say “just follow me and I’ll take you to there”.
I thanked the kind lady who let me use her phone. And she says to me… “Un milagro de Dios! Dios es tan bueno!” I nod .. si de verdad un milagro, gracias senora por dejar me usar su telefono.” She smiled and asked to see my paintings. I opened the car door, showed her really fast and she smiled. “ay que lindos les van a gustar mucho, buena suerte eh”.
I follow my contact in her grey Acura, the center was less than a mile down the road… I had passed it probably 3 times and didn’t see it. I shake my head in shame…. I was so worked up about being lost I didn’t even notice I had reached my destination and passed it up, not once, but twice. I delivered the paintings and got meet the director of the center and he loved all of the paintings.
This was just a small reminder that we need to slow down and pay better attention to small things … we go through life in such a hurry and in panic mode from one destination to another all the while losing focus. Today I saw small miracles… in a beautiful lady Darlene willing to share her community contacts via a simple email, a lady willing to share her time and cell phone with one who had no direction and no phone, a lady that asked for artwork not expecting to receive anything because of the short notice, (ask and you shall receive) and even more beautiful a God who lets you know he’s in control of the situation when you are not. He is always on time! Lastly, Just when you think what you do as an artist doesn’t make an impact, God reminds you that it does.
If you happen to be in East San Jose area, stop by the Catholic Charities center… paintings from my personal collection will be on display there for several months. They are not for sale, but it would be awesome if you happen to stop by to enjoy them, please consider a donation to this worthy cause that serves many of the low-income Latino community from East San Jose.
The address is:
Catholic Charities, Eastside Neighborhood Center
2150 Alum Rock Avenue
San José, CA 95116