Flight to The Pink Door

The first time I saw Bill, he was in an elevator at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, recounting his experience of swimming with a manatee to another passenger on the ride down to the first floor. I was visiting a friend who attended classes there, and right before we stepped off the elevator, she turned to him and accused him of lying about the manatee. I could see the blood rush to his face as we walked off the elevator and before he had time to defend himself, the doors shut.

My friend chuckled. I thought she knew him. Apparently she didn’t and was just being sassy.

{I’m not sure if I really witnessed that event, but when Bill would tell me about it later, I felt like I had been there and it could be possible that I was.}

Years went by until I moved to Milwaukee and saw him again at an art show. Not really him as a person, but his art. Bill is an amazing artist and illustrator and he had several pieces in the show. I remember being bored with the exhibit until I came to his work.

There were two pieces in his collection in particular that drew me in. One of them portrayed a bunk bed, with a frightened child on the bottom bunk and Skeletor on the top bunk (which was sold before he could obtain a digital copy, so I’m unable to show it to you).

The other one told a story about a time when he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, ran into his dad in the hallway and mistook his dad as a ghost.

There was something familiar about his work, as if I already knew and loved him. I also fell in love with another artist that evening who had installed a tree house in the highest corner of the gallery that you could climb into, but I would later understand that you cannot judge an artist by his art, because I came to know both of the artists…one being Bill of course, and the other being someone who I didn’t end up liking as much as I like Bill.

I wouldn’t connect the art to Bill until my first visit to his home, a few years later. There on his mantle would be my favorites at that show and I rejoiced in the synchronicity of it all.

Here’s my very own William Baldus piece:

It depicts the highlights of our trip to Seattle. I looked for orcas, and we went to a place called the Pink Door, which had a trapeze hanging from the ceiling, and served up plates of steamed clams and warm bread and butter. We couldn’t afford to eat there, but we had cocktails and listened to a band.

Later, we wandered into an arcade, despite my whining to Bill about how much I dislike playing video games, but we played skee ball and came across a game that consisted of balloons with drills attached to the bottom of them. To play, we had to sit in a chair that rode up and down with our balloons as they battled with the other balloons, which were displayed on a large screen in front of us.

I didn’t want to lose at this game, because if you lost, your chair would stay at floor level, and I imagined that would be devastating. I was determined to go as high as the chair would take me, and that’s exactly what I did.

Once up there, I was able to pop every one else’s ballon with the drill before they had a chance to come near me, high up in the sky, my chair bouncing with every balloon I would pop.

In celebration of my win, my chair elevated all the way to the ceiling. Lights sparkled on me and electronic music played jubilantly. This was a huge deal.

That’s why I’m in the balloon in this illustration, with the orange orca, coming home to my orange boyfriend and orange cat.

The mountains in the background remind me of when we took a ferry across the Puget Sound. It was early, and fog sat on top of Seattle. As we made our way across the Sound, the fog began to lift and we could see a mountain range. Bill said, “I wonder which one of those mountains is Rainier.” I looked and I couldn’t tell; they all looked the same, until the fog parted and out of it emerged a massive mountain, 100 times larger than the rest, and suddenly there was no question in our minds about which mountain was named Rainier. Our mouths gaped open in awe.

I like to say a piece of that mountain’s spirit resides in Bill, since he was also there the whole time, and all I really had to do to find him was step back a bit and wait for the fog to clear.

About clutterheart

You don't know me, but you will.
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2 Responses to Flight to The Pink Door

  1. Tina Samuels says:

    This is so incredibly sweet 🙂 ❤ Love it!! Bill is totally orange & I love that you have an orange cat 🙂 I was once engaged to a guy that was brown with square box car feet. We had a dog with brown eyebrows that ate canned pumpkin 🙂


    • That’s hilarious! Would you happen to have a pic of the feet? And the dog with eyebrows? I never heard of such a thing. But canned pumpkin, I know from working at a vet clinic, is good for doggies, I can’t remember why though.


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