Good Fridays in the Life

Julia’s just moved out. It’s cool, we’re still going to see each other, she’s still going to visit, but we’re not going to have the same day to day thing. Since this started out as her crashing with me for a few weeks around a year ago, it is in some ways a long past due moment. On the other hand, I’ve certainly grown accustomed to her face. When she told me how glad she was when she thought of how much about her and her situation have changed in the past year, of how glad she was of how she was leaving, of how glad she was that we’re together, well, I must admit it made me very glad of all those things, too. Of course, this morning I woke up and realized that she took the phone charger with her and am shaking my fist at the ceiling and yelling ‘Julia!’


We got to the Art Institute around noon. The line for admission went down the steps and halfway around the block. Apparently other people had Good Friday off. There was a blustery wind blowing and neither of us wanted to wait in that line, but I know about the back entrance, so I told her to follow me. We walked around the building and I noticed that the area we were heading towards was under construction but a pedestrian walkway had been preserved so we persevered. I had my doubts about the entrance being opened but I figured if nothing is ventured then we would have to go back and stand in that ridiculous line. The doors to the entrance were locked but when I pulled on one and made eye contact with the guy behind the door he popped it open and we walked in.

We passed through the lobby mingling in with the patrons who were headed to the restaurant and in a moment were passing sculptures of gods and Bodhisattvas. The museum is in a state of flux as they are rethinking many of the galleries and exhibits; I thoroughly approve of the changes even as I was disappointed that the contemporary galleries were not yet ready to be seen by the public. Julia and I had been talking about Jackson Pollock the night before and I really wanted her to see a couple of his later works; she also is obsessed with abstract art at the moment.

Perhaps what I enjoy most about her is that without any prompting from me she picked up a brush. Of  course, my own opinion is completely subjective, but when I have shown pictures of her work to others and asked them what they thought, they asked if I was in another abstract phase because they liked these better than my old ones. I like her lack of training and primitive technique, I like that she isn’t aping my work or anyone else’s for that matter; her work has an aboriginal originality that looks like it crawled in dripping from the dreamtime fresh onto the cave wall. In the past few months she has done two full size oils and filled a sketchbook with pastel studies.

There was so much that we wondered over together and studied with focused intent. Pointillism held us enthralled, and Julia finally understood what I meant when I told her that looking at photographic reproductions of paintings was pointless; she gasped to see the brushwork and nuance of detail in masterpieces she had seen in books and magazines. It reminded me of my own reaction to seeing with my own eyes the masterpieces of the Renaissance when I was in Italy; to stand in the same room as Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus was a surprisingly strange experience, like the feeling you get when you meet a movie star. 

Of course, it would by hypocritical to laud the value of the museum when I entered it like a thief, but I did buy our tickets for entry on the way out; the look on the face of the staffer when I explained that I wanted to buy tickets five minutes before the joint closed because we had entered without paying was worth the price alone. We also dropped a few bucks in the gift shop and had lunch in the delightful downstairs cafe’, which is another one of those pleasant secret treasures that building contains; the chestnut soup was delicious and inexpensive, the service friendly, the ambience warm.

I had no illusions about how most of my friends would react to her and it went as well as I could have hoped for. Lets just say the bourgeoisie and proletariat generally sorted themselves out along party lines with some exceptions, but most of them minded their manners even when Julia didn’t. I am not Henry Higgins and she is not Eliza Doolittle, but looking around at both of our lives I can say that we’re good for each other; I feel more like myself than I have in a while. Her rough edges have smoothed off mine, my steady hand guided her out of a rough patch onto smoother ground; it has occured to me that Julia and I have far better give and take than I ever did with my ex-wife or most of the women I’ve been involved with in my life. (I said most, ladies. Don’t worry, my pantheon is intact.) 

I’ve been asked if I love her. I do, but I also see that we have different paths to take. We’re still going to be dating and we will see where that will lead, but I see her eventually going her way and I’ll go mine. It makes me a little sad but I have come to understand that every relationship is temporary; there are a finite number of hours and kisses we can share with anyone, which is why who we share them with is important.

2 Responses to “Good Fridays in the Life”

  1. It all sounds lovely and perfect. Much love and good energy to Julia in her new life and for the two of you in finding your paths – either together or apart. ( I have to talk like this – I live in Vermont!)

    Can you believe at 38/39 we are still searching? Boggles my mind. It was wonderful to help you bide your time in traffic last night. Thanks for giving me some distraction from my own angst. Will I ever get it right, I wonder? Or believe that I can? 🙂 Love, Lara.

  2. I think we get it right all the time, but then we have to do it again. I was on the phone talking someone off the ledge this weekend and I was explaining to her that the only finality is death-no matter what victory or failure we experienced yesterday, today has a whole new pile of bullshit that we need to shovel through. For myself, I have given up searching and a result found the phone charger under the bed. Of course, I already bought one for my car, but that’s what I get for jumping to conclusions.
    I’m glad that I got share a bit of Hamster with you, too.

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