She’s a (he)artbreaker
Conversation with my ex-girlfriend Vicky about my new painting by Asheville, N.C., artist Jennifer Barrineau:
Me: Here’s a picture of the artwork my mom bought me on our trip to North Carolina.
Vicky: Oh wow. How pretty! I sort of want it.
Me: Yeah, I knew you would. Love it. Can’t wait to hang it over my mantel. It’s called “Rain Tree.”
Vicky: Does it remind you of Marie?
Me: Umm, no? Why would I choose a piece of artwork to bring into my home if it reminded me of my stalker?
Vicky: Well, you know, because “Rain Tree” sounds like Braintree – the town.
Vicky: I guess she technically doesn’t live in Braintree.
Me: Yeah, but her mom does.
Me: And I had to take the Braintree train on the Red Line to get to her apartment.
Me: And one of my only really good memories from that relationship was the time we made out in the rain. There were probably trees nearby.
Vicky: Well, it’s really cool. Enjoy!
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“Rain Tree” was too bulky to bring back with me on the plane to Boston, and I had no intention of buying a second ticket as if I were an obese passenger too hefty to fit into a standard-size seat, so the artist shipped it via UPS and it was delivered late last week. It arrived in the biggest cardboard box my cats have ever seen. I have never heard Teva purr so loudly in the seven years that I’ve had her. Her purrs usually sound like a muted metronome – barely audible staccato clicks. And here she was completely unable to contain her excitement over the ginormous box that had magically appeared in my bedroom.
But I could relate to Teva’s thrill. It has been a long, long time since a box was in my bedroom.
I tried to snap some photos of my cats in, on and around the huge package – it’s been even longer since a package, let alone a huge one, wandered into these here parts. Teva, however, left to her own devices – lacking boxes and packages, you’d think I’d have a dresser drawer full of devices – would eat packing tape by the roll. Any kind of tape, really. Scotch, masking, electrical. She’s basically the feline version of Bubba from “Forrest Gump,” except she’s equally obsessive about shrimp and adhesive. In a bid to deny Teva a tape smorgasbord, I quickly cast aside the camera and focused instead on breaking down the cardboard, which was pretty much a race against a bowel obstruction.
After discarding enough styrofoam to insulate a shantytown and recycling the box – one of these days I will get desperate enough to recycle a box from my past – I proudly mounted (I know, mounted) the painting above my mantel. It’s the perfect fit, subtly complements the dark woodwork in my apartment and looks so amazingly AWESOME.
. . . I look at it, I am reminded of the 37-year-old woman who bought me a “Life is Crap” T-shirt depicting a cartoon rectal exam for my 29th birthday, and stalked me for more than four months via the interweb and postal service after we broke up. I haven’t heard from her in about 90 days, but for all I know, she still may be stalking me now. (Hi, Marie!) She never ran her stalking schedule past me, which is just like her. I sort of want to call and ask, “Are you done?” But I have a feeling that might send the wrong message. Or it would send the right message, but provoke her. Or she might just assume I want to recycle her box. Which I sort of do because it’s been more than seven months since I boxed.
The painting is the first thing I see when I rise, and the last before bed. Even when I just catch a glimpse of it in my periphery, I think, “Rain Tree,” Braintree, Marie.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop associating my gorgeous new work of art with my former piece of work.
Thanks *so* much, Vicky.