I had a dream last night that I was in art school again.
We were drawing fish on the chalkboards and then overlaying Jesus faces on them.
At some point, I stopped drawing fish and started drawing people, which I found much more interesting. The teacher came to me and told me to draw fish again. I didn’t want to, and she looked disappointed. “That’s OK; you always quit anyway,” she said and walked away.
It caught me off guard. I dropped the chalk and darted after her. “What did you mean by that?” I asked, stopping short in front of her. “Just that. I’ve known you through other teachers for a while now, and it’s always the same with you: You work hard until you get to a point, then you stop and change direction.”
Within a few minutes, we were alone, outside. She was giving me life advice and I was feeling moved, inspired, grateful. I ran to the fish market nearby. And I began to look for the best fish to copy. The seller, a wily Greek man, came by to help. I pointed to a tub of butter fish and asked for the names. “They don’t have names,” he chuckled. “They have proteins.”
Embarrassed at first that I had asked a dumb question, I walked further down the display. But then I got angry at his rudeness. I walked back.
“How can they not have names?” I pressed him.
He rolled his eyes. “They just don’t…you want the names of the proteins?”
“No. What would I do with the names of proteins? How much for the small one?” Two fish were $7 each.
“Thanks,” I said. The man’s demeanor changed as he handed me the package. He asked me what I was. I explained about art school. But before he had time to comment, I already eyed the succulent fried potatoes.
“Will you get me half a pound of those too?” I said. There’s always time for lunch.
I woke up to a quiet house. In the bright, sunny, kitchen, I felt the fall chill enter through the windows. Beyond the sheer white curtains, I could see the plain blue sky — a crystal blue, with few clouds breaking up the color. The leaves rustled, and my neighbor for once wasn’t screaming at her sons. Her clothes hung outside her window, on her lopsided clothesline that extended from her brick wall toward mine.
I opened the cupboards in search of breakfast. I wished I had bran flakes and oats to make granola. Or jelly for a PB&J. I reached for the peanut butter anyway — Brad’s Organic. And then the honey and the whole-wheat bread.
I washed down my sandwich with half a glass of milk, then I hesitated for a few seconds before reaching for the last chocolate cookie that had been sitting on the table all week. Finally I grabbed it and threw the wrappers away. “Who do I have to impress anyway?” I asked myself and ate.
I thought about Boy yesterday. It was fine, the date that I had planned. We had fun at the boathouse in the park, at the museum, then on my bed, eating takeout, talking, falling asleep.
But things bothered me. Why was I the one to decide everything? Why coudln’t he have called in advance, to plan, to chat, whatever? I felt annoyed already yesterday, even before meeting up. And when we met up, the boathouse had closed, and we couldn’t go boating, something I’d been looking forward to all week.
We walked around the wooded path instead, over the bridge and by the water, and we sat on a little hidden outpost, where he kissed me. When he kisses me, there is no better place. It was amazing later too, after food on my bed. But that’s not all I want. I don’t want to feel like he’s taking me for granted otherwise. Why hadn’t he called the few days before meeting up? He told me what he did on Friday night, and I asked if he was alone. “Should I have called you?” he surprised me before giving me an answer. “No,” I said. “I was just wondering.”
Later at the museum, he got bored halfway through the Robert Frank exhibit I had wanted to see. He wanted to see the wooden panels in the European section. “It’s OK, we can stay,” he said warmly after I realized that he didn’t want to be there. I urged him to go if he wanted, saying I wouldn’t mind. (Not everyone likes the same things, and I wanted both of us to have fun.)
Later, I asked him where he wanted to eat, and he made a suggestion. “I mean, I don’t want to go there if you don’t want to,” he quickly added. Again, I didn’t mind doing what he’d said. “You sure?” Yes, I was certain. Then he brought something up, something along the lines that he didn’t want me to say it was OK if deep down I was feeling that it wasn’t. A noble thought, but I guesstimated it had nothing to do with me but with a previous girlfriend.
At home, he told me a story about the girl he dated last semester. She was never nice to him, never positive, told him he wouldn’t make it in New York and took him for granted. “What did you like about her then?” I asked, taking a bite of my gyro. “I guess our personalities clicked, and I just liked being with her, but we really had nothing in common.” When he realized, he broke up with her.
He was unhappy in college. He’s glad Randy and I are positive people. He’s optimistic about New York.
I don’t know where this is going, dear reader. I felt unhappy this morning, despite the sweetness of the honey and peanut butter combo. I feel melancholy, uncertain, afraid that happiness and hurt are equally fragile, and I wanted an ear this morning. I made a list of what I didn’t like about him. Then I thought of how hard the week ahead will be, with a busy workload and the hours of neurosis that I’ll spend wondering when he’ll call again and why he hasn’t, like I did last week. Finally, I was mad again, feeling like it really shouldn’t be like this with anyone. Maybe I’m too nice. I should be sure he cares or forget about it. And then I wondered how you can make sure. And then I thought there is no way. So I checked my horoscope instead:
Pisces February 19 – March 20
For Sunday, October 11 –Today, you’ll have much more fun just running along and living your life than you will analyzing every little word out of every person’s mouth. It’s not the right time to get all serious about your life. There are good things going on right now, and bad things going on right now. Why don’t you just focus on the good things for the next 24 hours and give your worry muscle a rest? There’s not much you can do about what isn’t working anyway. The ball is in someone else’s court.
Amazing advice. It’s like it knows what’s happening every time.