Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Painting, a Whale, Spillage of Water

Three souvenirs from Italy: some salmon shorts, a pizza magnet, and a little painting from a street vendor in Florence. I have been very troubled in the past couple weeks because the painting is missing. I have no clue where it went. It was wrapped in brown paper. I am fairly certain I took it home from Europe, but then I schlepped things across the country, around the midwest, made trash piles, etc. I kept thinking the painting would pop up in some box, but now I've gone through everything in the apartment, and it's not here. I think it's a goner.

The painting was 20ish euros, which isn't a huge sum, but also isn't money I feel good about throwing away. I don't remember what the image was--just that I really loved it (enough to say "let me hang this in my new home!"). I'm not sure why this is making me so sad. Sometimes I go through my shoe boxes one more time in a frenzy. Eventually I make some kind of reasonable speech to myself about how I have a lot of lovely art in my home, and I really didn't NEED that painting. The pizza magnet is on the fridge. Am I being serious right now? I went to Italy, and I mourn some tiny art that is of basically no value to anyone else.

I'm sure you (whoever you are) can't really commiserate with me. There are far worse problems. More importantly, there are far better, more wonderful things to think about. I'm a person who tries to keep my possessions limited, and I still have a lot of things. Things I love a lot. Things I would be sad to lose. Although, eventually I will lose them all because you can't take it with you. Just as energy is transferred at lower and lower rates from grains to cows to humans, so is sentimentality. I could give that painting away, but it will never mean half as much to that soul as it did to me. So actually I'm just cutting to the chase. Nothing you can own is ever that important. The less stuff that is running your emotions, the better. I know this. I know this.

I am reminded of a small purple polka-dotted whale I lost as a child. I had brought it down to a hotel swimming pool on some trip. I left it by the edge of the water. The next morning I went to retrieve it, and it was gone. I really liked that whale, and I think I cried about losing it. I had earned it with tickets at Chuckie Cheese's. I missed Jelly (his name) for days. My mom told me she heard some people in the hotel were staying there because their house had been in a fire. Maybe the children who ended up with my whale had recently lost their toys. This didn't really comfort me because I still considered grabbing an abandoned whale theft. If someone had stolen the whale from my hands, I doubt the experience would have stuck with me. It is the burden of guilt that stays so permanent in my mind. If I had just taken better care of what I care for, it could be with me now. This painting experience smacks of the same melancholy.

I told Bisque this morning I hate that stupid painting for ever even entering my life. He thoughtfully pulled up a photo of us from Florence. That was comforting. Even if the photos were destroyed, nothing could erase my memory of those tan roofs.

The spring musical my freshman year of college opened right around my birthday. The cast celebrated by all wishing me a happy day during mic checks. One of my new pals secretly had the entire cast sign a card for me. 40 names and messages in that card! I was so touched. That night I knocked the vase holding flowers off my desk. The card was drenched. I was crushed. And then! The friend who had been with me when I ruined my gift called every person in the cast individually and got them to resign a new card. It is still one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been so clumsy.

Some days I really think I could get rid of everything. I really think so. Others days I am not so sure.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

One of my favorite writing prompts (for creative writing classes...or whatever) is, "What have you lost and never found?" I feel like everyone has a thing that is very powerful to them and probably no one else.

Me? A pink ice (is that even a thing) ring. It is in the bottom of Lake Powell, I think.