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Part I, Berkeley 1980


Chapter 1


Carolyn Stuart lay wide awake, intoxicated and restless. She imagined the handshake from Marc Silver later that morning, when he accepts her into the program at the UC Berkeley Art Institute. Her thoughts were interrupted by the heat that radiated from Damian next to her on the bed as he breathed in and out.

She pulled the covers back and moved her legs over the side of the bed. The floor cooled her feet. She yawned and stretched high, smiled to herself, and then tiptoed to the window. Between the blinds she saw down the street to the lights of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco across the water. Had her mother Elizabeth awakened? She wished one of the pinpoints of light beyond downtown to be her mother’s upstairs windows in Sea Cliff.

Her stomach hurt, but excitement kept her from going to the kitchen. Once more she observed Damian shift in the bed and wondered whether this self-taught abstract artist would be proud of her. She shook her head, sad to think she didn’t really know the answer to the question, and walked over to the bathroom.

A photo of her mother and herself stared at her on the wall, from last spring when she graduated from Mills College. Then she thought of the argument they had later at dinner, over her decision to get an MFA at Berkeley, instead of an MBA at Stanford, copying her mother’s career path.

Warm water cascaded over her head and down her body as Carolyn imagined the opening of her show at the Whitman Gallery on Hayes Street. She walks around, her pastels on one wall, gouache drawings opposite, and large oil paintings brightly lit on easels in the center. Her mother leads wealthy friends around the gallery, wine in hand, and when she spies Carolyn, smiles warmly. “I’m so happy for you, Darling. I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you before, but I certainly do now. I want to fund a new show for you.” Carolyn sees warmth and happiness her mother’s eyes she has never seen before.

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