Seventeen years ago this week I began my life in Southern California. I moved 6000 miles from London to work as a curator at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. I stayed at the museum for nearly 9 years and during my time there, I was able to curate a wide range of exhibitions, write a few books on Asian art and meet some wonderful collectors, volunteers and docents. Although I never became a collector of Asian art myself – for financial and ethical reasons – I occasionally acquired some small Asian art works, which I have enjoyed over the years. One was an Indian miniature painting I found at one of the museums sales. It depicts lovers in a desert landscape being discovered on tryst. It wasn’t so much the bold subject matter but rather the skill and delicacy of the brushwork and the warmth of the colors that attracted me to this sweet little painting.
A few days after I arrived here, I moved into a nearby apartment building. Just upstairs from me lived a pretty, friendly and extremely smart woman called Lynn who welcomed me warmly to my new home and soon became my best friend in this new life. In our seventeen years of friendship, we have gone through one divorce, two weddings, one childbirth, multiple family dramas, work crises, agonizing self-doubt and so much more. She listens hard when I need to bare my soul, she forgives me for my screw-ups, and she even lies to me if she has to – only once, actually, when I was in labor and felt I couldn’t push any more. She told me she saw the baby’s head coming, and after 34 hours of labor, these words gave me the strength to push for 2 more hours! To my dear friend Lynn I give this miniature painting in part because we met because of my Asian art job at Pacific Asia Museum, but more importantly because, like this little painting, a true friendship requires skill, delicacy and warmth, and the occasionally act of boldness.