My Saturday afternoon was interrupted by a call I first thought was a telemarketer, and now really wish it had been. Instead, it was the manager of the storage facility where I have most of what’s left of my life put away for now. Not a huge thing, less than half the normal size, but packed full of memories and the few things I’ve been able to hold onto these last few years. Including my books.
One of those things was Flo, officially named “Flowing in the Wind” by Phigmuth (also spelled Fhighmuth), a five-and-a-half-foot tall bronze statue that came into my life via 9-11. I used to have a small art collection, mostly paintings, but also three bronzes that came out of my first visit to NYC after 9-11.
Let’s just say that New York was not itself in those early days. Among other things, everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop. As a member of NYPD put it while we were out on the river checking some things out, including a possible dead body, “Take a look at it while it’s still here!” The “it” in this case was the Statue of Liberty, which he made sure I and the crew got a good look at, just in case.
It wasn’t just the tourists not crowding around, as the natives had a tendency to do what was needed and get home as well. It was almost like I had the streets to myself (at least compared to normal) as I wandered around between meetings and such. Walking around after one such meeting, which had taken me from various points south and much closer to Central Park, I spotted a place who’s name I actually recognized, and as they were open, I decided to go in and browse the art.
I was all but tackled in welcome, and actually did finally whip around holding my hands up in a cross and hissing like Dracula at them as they hovered over me. We talked a bit, and they explained that I was the first major customer that had had come in since 9-11. My immediate response was to ask what made them think I was a major customer?
“You are in here!”
As a NASA contractor, I wasn’t exactly rich or even well off. That said, I saw and fell in love with Flo. Problem was, there were many other items and if I had been rich I could have made out like a bandit on bronzes, paintings, and more. On my more modest means, I ended up being made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I got a nice price on Flo, and they essentially threw in two other small bronzes (a statue and a lamp). According to them, it was their first sale since 9-11. Over the years and ups and downs, the other two left but I have managed to hold on to Flo no matter what.
Until Saturday. Despite video and alarms, a crew got into the fenced storage site, inside a building, and hit around 13 units. From what I was hearing, they didn’t dig in deep, but just took one or two things from each unit from near the front. In my case they dug a bit, but that was because I had two empty gun cases in there that they must have thought were the motherload. One day soon will need to get some boxes, bags, and tape and go down and clean up.
I found some of my stuff in the mostly vacant unit next door, where they had pulled out enough stuff to get Flo’s crate open and her out. Sort of suspect they may have used it for some other units too. It was the bedspread that had been in the crate as padding that caused me (and the uniform taking my report) to look into that unit. An empty storage tote of mine makes me think they got some other stuff, but I don’t have a clue what it is or could be. Stupid lightning.
My first thought was to reach out to various contacts to spread the word of my loss, and to see if anyone might have any idea of someone who might possibly hear of artwork on the market (your friendly local Fence). That appears to be a dwindling occupation, as I learned that often bronzes and such are often chosen because they can be quickly sold with few questions to metal recyclers. A 200 pound statue gets not nearly the money it’s worth as an artwork, but more than enough to make a smash-and-grab profitable.
From what I was hearing yesterday, Flo is probably already broken up and sold. Possibly before I even got down to the unit. Recyclers who don’t ask questions (and also often buy catalytic converter cores without proper paperwork) also have a tendency to crush/cut/etc. to get rid of evidence as quickly as possible I hear. So, despite the quick response by Greenwood PD, odds are I will not be reunited with Flo barring a bit of a miracle.
I’m having a hard time praying nicely for the thieves, as the nasty part of me both wishes they had tipped over the stack of very heavy crates onto themselves when going for the gun cases, and that poetic justice pays them a visit. An old part of me wouldn’t mind witnessing, or even assisting, that poetic operation. The rest of me remembers I’m old, don’t get around well, and am a nice wolf now.
Besides, Flo herself epitomized the freedom of letting go, casting aside your fears, and making the most of the moment that is now. For all that my now has brought back some of the absolute horror that was 9-11 and the aftermath, it has also brought back the memories of how she came into my life, of the beauty, resilience, and even niceness that peeked through New York in those days. And of the moments where her beauty enriched my days, and often made me smile. A few small long-term memories restored is a nice thing, though I wish circumstances were different. Remember kids: getting hit by lightning sucks. Don’t do that.
Yes, I can get a cheaper casting but it won’t be the same. The casting I lucked into would never have been mine under other circumstances, given the normal price. And, yes, quality matters. If things ever work out where I could find a casting of the same quality, I would have to think about it. If there is a small miracle, and she finds her way home, I will be beyond delighted. She also won’t go back into storage, as I will find a way to get her into my room.
Even if I can’t move to the SW yet, need to find some place to call my own. Some place I can have my books out, hang what little art I have left, and get the other bits of beauty and the past out of storage. If you are the praying kind, please ask that I be shown what I should do and where I should go. Thanks.
Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.