When I was leaving the hotel the next day to fly back to Ireland, Hamid was at the reception. He said that he would come to visit me in Cork and he took his silver bracelet from his wrist, which he had always worn, and put it on my wrist. It was his message to me to not forget about him.
I told the hotel that I would send the money I owed them from Ireland, but I knew I wasn’t going to. It was because I didn’t think I should pay. I had been in Paris for two months and it ended up being such a mess. All this happened was because I met Hamid, however, after all, it all worked out okay. It was my hope to try pursuing a career as an artist in France and I was able to do that in Paris while staying in a hotel for many weeks for free! It would have been better if I had been able to start selling my paintings, but at least I tried and I learned a lot, experienced a lot and painted a lot! I feel that the visa and work problems had always prevented me from being in a good relationship, both in Ireland and in France.
Certainly, I was not planning to go back to Ireland, but I had ended up back in Cork again. It was the beginning of December 2001. I had liked France, but one other thing I noticed was that I liked the English language more than French. When I was in France, I felt like I was losing my English because I wasn’t using it much. I didn’t want to lose my English skills and I realized that English was something that was very important in my life.
France was a lot more sophisticated than Ireland and I felt comfortable being an artist there. However, it did not seem possible for me to launch a career as an artist there for a few reasons. Firstly, it was because many art galleries there preferred French-style painting, such as those done in the impressionist style. That was totally understandable since that was what had made France the centre of the art world. It often appeared to me that, for the art scene there, the time had stopped. So, in order to succeed commercially in France, I would have to paint in a French style. But that was not what I wanted to do.
Secondly, the timing for me being there was not right. It was one of the worst economic periods for France in recent years. There were not enough jobs for newcomers and even for locals. It has to be an uplifting economic climate in order for artists to stay productive and prosper.
Since I left Japan in 1998, I had been focusing on exploring new cultures, thinking about the philosophy of life and my own future. I realized that I had become so ignorant of current world matters and also modern technology. I had no idea what was going on in the world. Environmental problems that I used to be conscious of were not even in my head since I left Japan. I missed out on a lot of things that had happened in the world during this period.