Art and the philosophy of life

Archive for the ‘A Moment in Time’ Category

A Moment in time…The story of a life.

white and black human face painting

“Me?  You want me to talk?”  he asked.

She nodded.

“Why?”

“I want to learn about the world,” she said.  “I want to learn about your part of it.”

“How old are you?”

“Nine and a half,” she said.  “Our teacher said the best way to learn about the world is to ask people what they think.”

He took a deep drag, coughed, then snickered.  “You sure about that?  You seem kind of…young, to hear my story.”

“Please,” she said.

“Okay then.  Well, I’m a city kid,” he said, his voice deep and husky.  “Born and raised, right here.  Lived around these streets my whole life.  Hardly ever traveled, didn’t like to leave the city.  I’m the only one my mama ever had. Maybe she knew how much trouble I’d be and thought she’d stop while she was ahead,” he laughed.  “I had a dog once.  Name was Tilly.  She was a fine girl.  I learned how much love could hurt from that dog.  When she passed…I knew I’d never really be the same again.  You know what I mean?  Once you’re heart is broken, it can’t ever be put right. So, I was cautious.  When my friends were falling in and out of love, I stayed back.  They kidded me about that, but I remembered how losing Tilly made me feel and I thought…I’d rather not go through that again.

“But life doesn’t really care what you want, does it,” he chuckled, squinting as the smoke  stung his eyes.  “No it does not.  So there she was.  Sweet looking woman, in a pink dress with matching shoes.  She didn’t have to say a word.  I was already in love with her.”  He smiled and closed his eyes.  “Prettiest one I ever did see. I walked up to her and said, ‘You are the prettiest woman I ever did see,’ and she said, “Does that line work on anyone?”

“I laughed so hard I almost fell over.  I kissed her hand and asked her to marry me right then and there.  She said she’d think about it.  We were married six months later.  My mama was happy, I can tell you that.  A lot of mamas think a woman will settle their sons down.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on any woman, don’t you think?’

“She said she liked my blue eyes.  Said no one should have eyes like that, eyes that drew you in and kept you there.  I told her it was my mama’s fault and to take it up with her.”  He laughed again and coughed some more.  “She never did, of course.  We were happy.  I pushed Tilly to the back of my mind.  I thought love could last. I was a fool, but love can make fools out of anyone.  You should remember that.  In fact, you should write that down, so you never forget it.

“Anyway, I had been in trouble when I was young.  Nothing big, joy riding, running numbers for Thumbs Marcassi, the usual stuff.  Like I said, nothing big. My mama kept an eye on me and when she found about about Marcassi, she went to his place of business and when she left, I needed a new job.

“After I met the love of my life, I went straight, so maybe my mama was right after all,” he snickered.  “We had a little apartment in a three story walk up and everything was perfect until….  Until, a drunk driver hit her.  He didn’t even stop.  Someone got his plate number and they caught him, but what good was that?  She died later that night.  Just like my Tilly.  Love was ripped away  from me.  That’s what life is, you know.  It gives you what you want and then it laughs and takes it from you, leaving you bleeding until it’s your turn to leave.

“After that, I knew that I had been right all along.  It’s better to never love at all.  That way you can kick life in the teeth and walk away free.  People will tell you that love is worth it.  They say that love is worth anything, and maybe it is for some folks, but for others, it’s a slow death.  I’m guessing that’s not what you wanted to hear, but that’s the truth of it.  My mama’s gone too.  I don’t know why I’m still here.  I can’t figure that part out.  I see people in love and I think…just wait until your heart is ripped out.  No one escapes.

“I’m old now.  Been on the street a good long time.  It’s not a good place to be.  Winter’s coming on and things will get bad.  Some will die.  Freeze to death and all.  Shelters are dangerous and some are religious, preaching all that trash, like it matters to any of us.  No one should have to listen to their lies just to get a bowl of soup.  Sometimes people hand out food, sometimes we wait until restaurants close and get the food they don’t need anymore.  It’s not that bad.  But it’s horrible for women.  Violence and…well, it’s bad for them to be on the street. That’s something for you to remember too.  You never want to end up out here.  Write that down.

“And here I am.  Sitting in the park, smoking, telling a complete stranger,  my entire life story.”

“Can I ask you something?” she said, softly.

He nodded.

“Is it better to have been in front of a warm fire once, and to know how it felt, or is it better to have been cold for your entire life?”

“He grinned.  “See, that’s the thing.  People have to learn how to be enough for themselves, before they can be enough for anyone else.  If you’re enough for yourself, you can be alone, or without the fire for others, forever.  Once you can be alone, you can do anything.  And some people handle pain better than others.  There is that.”

“So, you let love break you?”

“I did,” he said

“And you knew you were doing it?”

“I knew I was doing something, but I didn’t care.  That’s what some people don’t understand.  You see, when you don’t care, nothing matters.  Nothing makes any difference in your life, when pain is all you feel.”

“I have a hamster named, Ted.  Will I be like you when he dies?” she asked, pulling on her sleeve.

“No.  You’re a lot braver than I ever was,” he said, truthfully.  “You stopped to talk to me and you weren’t even afraid to do it.”

“Why should I have been afraid?”

“I’m a stranger and I live rough,” he said.  “People don’t stop and talk to me.  And there are a lot of people in the world who would hurt you, so I don’t think you should talk to a stranger again.”

“But you’re nice.”

“Not everyone is like me.”

“How can I tell who’s nice and who isn’t?”

“You can’t tell, that’s why you can’t talk to anyone.”

“Okay,” she said.  “I won’t.”

“Promise?”

“Yes,” she said, holding out her little finger.  “Pinky swear.”

He held out his finger.

“So you’ll never love anyone again?”  she asked.

“No,” he said.  “Never again.”

“Is it okay if someone loves you?”

He shook his head.  “No, it’s not.”

“Even a little?”

“Not even a little.”

“Okay,” she said.  “Thank you for talking to me.”

“You better go straight home,” he said.  “It will be dark soon.”

“I know.  I have to be home before the streetlights go on.”

“That’s a good rule,” he said.

She nodded.  “Maybe I’ll see you again some time.  You won’t be a stranger, so I can talk to you.”

“Maybe,” he said.

“Well, bye,” she said, waiving a little.

“Goodbye.”

He watched her walk away and thought,   You have the same trusting brown eyes as Tilly. Then he got up and shuffled away, knowing he couldn’t come back to that corner again.  He couldn’t be friends with her.  He couldn’t be friends with anyone.  Not anymore.

 

Picture:  Marco Zuppone
Unsplash

A moment in time…

“I want to open a bakery,” she said, emphatically.

“You don’t bake,” laughed her friend.

“Maybe I should have said that I want to LIVE in a bakery.”

“That makes a lot more sense.”

“I could learn how to bake, you know.  How hard can it be?”

“Only a person who doesn’t know how to bake would say that.  You need baking passion to open a bakery.  You, on the other hand, have a passion for EATING baked things, not a passion for baking them.”

“You’re not being very supportive.  Maybe we could go in it together.”

“I don’t know how to bake either.  You know our mother’s never taught us anything and we didn’t really want to learn on our own.  We are the only two girls who failed home economics.  You do remember that, right?”

“Our bird houses were beautiful.”

“No, they weren’t.”

“Birds lived in them.  How bad could they have been?” she asked, hands on hips.  “I still think we could open a bakery, then we could drink coffee and have treats whenever we wanted them.”

“No.  We would have to WORK, starting so early in the morning, it would still dark outside.”

“You would have to take care of the business end and I could make cookies and banana bread.  We could hire a real baker to make bread.  We can have a free book exchange and…”

“No.  We can’t do it.  We have no skills, money, or the desire to work thirty hours a day, seven days a week.”

“I like pie.”

“I do too, but one of us has to be sane.”

“Why is that person always you?”

“Because you’re crazy.”

“Oh.  Well, when you put it that way.  Still…bear claws, hot chocolate chip cookies, hot bread with butter and jam, poetry readings, book talks, and…”

“Poetry readings?”

“Well…yeah.  I thought that was a given.”

“But we don’t bake.”

“How important is that part?”

“Seriously?  How important is baking, to open a bakery?”

“We can hire people to do the work.”

“And pay them with what?”

“The money we make from selling baked goods, bread, and all the other things.  Like pottery.”

“Pottery?”

“Mugs.  We can let our repeat customers, keep their mugs here, so they can use them everyday.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“I know.”

“We can have a blackboard, with different colored chalk, for people to write messages and draw on.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Maybe it would work.”

“Really?”

“We need to find fantastic bakers.”

“Can you do the books?”

“Probably.”

“That’s good enough for me.”

“I’m sure it is,” she laughed.

“Should we make a plan?”

“Why not,” she said.

“I didn’t think you would ever agree.”

“Neither did I.”

“It was the poetry that did it, wasn’t it?”

“That and the mugs.  The bear claws didn’t hurt.”

“So you think we can do it?”

“We can try.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Can we have a cat in the shop?”

“As long as it doesn’t sleep on the food.”

“I’m really excited about this.”

“You’re really excited about everything.”

“We need t-shirts with our logo.  We can sell them, aprons too.”

“We’ll see.”

“I’ll get a graphic artist to draw up some things we can choose from, once we get the name down.  Something like, THE TWO GIRLS WHO DON’T BAKE BAKERY.”

“We can talk about that later.  We need financing.”

“You do that part and I’ll get the artist.”

“Why do I always have to do the business stuff?”

“Do you want me to do it?”

“You get the artist,” she laughed.

“Good choice.”

“So, we’re really doing this?” she asked.

“We are and it will be fabulous.”

“I’ll talk to you later.  I have to get to a meeting.”

“Me too.  Have fun.”

“At a meeting?”‘

“Everything can be fun if you know how to work the crowd.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch…

“Did you hear about all the trouble the humans are having?” she asked.

“I did,” he said.

“If they only were more like us, eating parsley and just enjoying life, they wouldn’t be so stressed all the time.”

“I think you’re right.  But they run on their big wheels more than we do.”

“I know, right?”

“They kill each other too.”

“I’m not surprised.”

“They refuse to accept our help, or even acknowledge the fact that we smarter than they are.”

“They have egos, remember?”

“Oh, yes.  I do keep forgetting about that.”

“Killing is a sport to them.”

“I’m not sure what’s wrong with them.”

“I think they’re just broken.  If they weren’t always fighting, just imagine all the wonderful things they could do.  They have hands and they’re tall and can carry and plant things.”

“That’s true.”

“They could make the world a beautiful place…if they just wanted to do it.”

“A nice dream that will never happy.”

“This parsley is really good.”

“Definitely.”

“We’re so lucky we’re guinea pigs.”

“What’s a guinea pig?”

“I think we are.”

“Who said?”

“I heard a girl say it.”

“That doesn’t make it true, you know.”

“You’re right.  Let’s just be what we have always been.  Just us.  No labels.”

“Yes.  We know who we are and it doesn’t matter what they say.”

“No.  It doesn’t matter in the least.  Labels just put us into one of their boxes.”

“Indeed.”

“I’m going to the meadow later.  Would you like to join me?”

“I’d like that very much.  We can visit the sheep.”

“Oh, I love to talk with the sheep.  They are so clever.”

“I’ll meet you in the clover patch.”

“See you then.”

 

A Moment in time…

“These are for you,” he said, handing her the flowers.

“Wow.  Honeysuckle, hyacinth, amaryllis and roses.  Just what are you trying to tell me?  These flowers all say that a person is beautiful, in one way or another.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying to you.  I think you’re beautiful.”

“Why?”

“What?” he asked.

“Why do you think I’m beautiful?   I know what I look like.”

“Do you?”

“I have a mirror, you know.”

“Then it must be defective.  Either that, or you just don’t really see yourself.”

“The flowers are lovely.  Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said.  “Do you want to study?”

“Yes.  But truthfully, now I feel…weird,” she said.

“Why?  Because I brought flowers?”

She nodded.

“It’s no big deal.  I walked by the florist shop, on the way here, and just…stopped in and got them.”

“Okay, first of all, you thought of me and bought the flowers that said I was beautiful and second, I didn’t know we had that kind of relationship.”

“Can’t I just bring flowers, without all the drama.”

“Is that what you want?” she asked.

He thought for a moment, then shook his head.  “I see your point.  Maybe I should have gotten a cacti.”

She laughed.  “Maybe, but you still would have been thinking of me and you still would have brought something to me.”

“Only because I love you,” he said, sheepishly.

“So, by getting any kind of flower…wait…what?”

“I said, I love you.”

“How can you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Am I lovable?”

“Of course you’re lovable.”

“I am?  Why?  How?”

“I think you’ve been reading too long and haven’t looked up in years.”

“Well, that’s true, but I don’t know why anyone would actually love me.”

I love you and I’m not just anyone.”

“I know that.”

“Do you love me?”

“Um, I never thought about it.  Give me a minute,” she said, staring at him.

He waited, stared back, and just let her look and think.  Finally, he said, “Is that long enough?”

“Yes,” she said, pulling a flower from the bouquet, handing it to him.  “I think I do love you, it’s just that I never thought about love until now.”

“How is that possible?”

“I was busy,” she laughed.

“Doing what?”

“Reading, playing with cats and living in the stories that were running through my head.”

“Do you want to move in together, or is that too much too soon?”

“I just woke up to what’s going on, so it’s a little fast, don’t you think?  What if you get tired of me in a couple of hours, or a day or two.”

“We’ve known each other for two years.”

“Has it been that long?”

“Yes.  It has been that long,” he said, shaking his head.  “If I was going to get tired of you I would have done it a long time ago.  But the truth is, I can’t stand to be away from you.”

“I need chocolate ice cream,” she said.  “How about you?”

“You always say that when you’re thinking about something important.”

“I do?”

“Why do you think the woman behind the ice cream counter knows us by name?”

She shrugged.  “I didn’t know that she did.”

“If we do move in together, do you think you’ll remember that I’m there?”

“I think so,” she laughed, taking his hand.  “I just never let myself think you would care about me.”

“We literally spend all of our time together, we like the same things and, after being friends with benefits for a year, we know we fit together perfectly.   We both like…”

“Okay, then.  Let’s try it,” she said.  “I still don’t know why you think I’m beautiful,” she said, off handedly.

“You’re brilliant and gorgeous.  Every guy who sees you stares at you.  I bet they wonder what you see in me.”

“Okay, we have officially entered fantasy land.  Let’s just get the ice cream and go to my place.”

“What do you think about getting married, sometime in the future.”

“How about we start with the ice cream.  I’m not really sure I’m marriage material.”

“I’ll ask you later then,” he said.

“How long have you been in love with me.”

“Since the first day I met you.”

“Why didn’t you say something before now?”

“I don’t know.  We always talked about ideas, books, what was wrong with the world, philosophy, names for cats and I was afraid.”

“I get it.”

“Good,” he said.

“And you’re right,” she said, smiling.  “We do fit together perfectly.”

 

 

 

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