"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dear Mother Fate ...Artist

4/24 - Artist
Dear Mother Fate -

You are most certainly a woman, fate. I refer to you as a mother figure because men are such linear thinkers; you couldn’t possibly be masculine. You are way too multifaceted to be male. I picture you as a beautiful, spider-like woman with long, flowing hair, an ageless face, wide, soulful eyes, and an intelligence that is almost tangible. After all, you are the artist who weaves this most remarkable web called life. I picture you as an apprentice to spirit, discussing a creation whether it be animal or human, and choosing the fabrics, rich silks, and threads to create the tapestry that dictates fate.

When we pass on, I envision you blanketing each being in your work as a comfort until the next plane. Each work is like a snowflake; there are no duplicates. And when each being moves on to their next plateau, you take its blanket, and gently quilt it into a fantastic tapestry called existence, and weave and unweave like Penelope to capture the lessons learned in each life, changing the blanket with each beings evolution. No being the same, no fate the same.

The most beautiful work to look at must be how you intertwine lives; the tapestries must creep together like ivy vines, and fit together like puzzle pieces. I wonder if we can follow the evolution of soul mates through your work by studying the repetition of colors and materials that you use. I see emotions represented by things like Gerber Daisies for happiness, and sadness by weighty black smoke, and contentment by crystal blue water, and confusion by ants, and liberation by butterflies. How amazing it must be to see all these things interwoven into one small moment.

When our paths crossed, Jack and me, I think that you must have chuckled as you weaved confusion, attraction, and forbidden into our blankets, now linked with soulful fabrics. After our first awkward meeting in a crowded high school hallway, neither of our lives were ever the same. That was the first stitch, combining my fabric of discontent and sadness to his; the patchwork must show two quilting patches of black smoke and fog, swirling together in slow spirals. Then there was the office job that I acquired during my free period, where I would answer phone calls, and assist students and parents with school busy work. My first day on the job, I was peering through the front glass windows, leading into the High School lobby, and Jack, then a green-eyed stranger caught my eye. We both smiled familiar grins and waved, only my heart skipped a beat; I felt uncomfortably giddy. That must have been where you weaved a rope of dancing fireflies and pink silk into our slowly braiding tapestry.

I tried to shake off the unorthodox tinge of a crush on this younger stranger, but his discovery that I worked in the office window everyday at 1:30 created a series of silent waves and smiles through the glass that would brighten my sullen mood daily; I looked forward to it.

And then one day Jack walked in, or should I say sidled in, twitching nervously before he was diagnosed with Tourettes syndrome; the safety of the glass panes were history. He leaned awkwardly on the front counter, and I jumped up to help him, losing my clog under the desk on the way, laughing awkwardly while trying to slide it back onto my sweaty foot. I nonchalantly wiped my nervous hands on the back of my plaid, wool skirt and I stuttered a “hi there,” trying to speak like a teacher and authoritarian, but wanting desperately to just reach out and push his wavy brown shaggy hair out of his frightened eyes. He wasn’t scared of me, but something had him in shackles. He smiled a crooked grin, and I studied his face, feeling self-conscious about my freckles and unwashed ponytail as we looked at each other for what seemed to be forever.

His entire face smiled and I melted; I pictured the lines in his face as an old man, and how handsome he would be; dramatic etching around his mouth and eyes, on his thin cheeks and under his high cheekbones. He looked much older than his years. My heart realized, that moment, that in the large scheme of things, earth years meant nothing, still my mind couldn’t make sense of it.

There are certain roles that I knew that I was to adhere to, and I prayed that my feelings for Jack, then a mystery, would simply dissipate; after years of missed opportunities, rash decisions, and ill-behavior as a result of my being bipolar and self-medicating, I finally felt like I was doing something right for the first time; I was an English Teacher and a Theater Director in a High School; I had benefits, a paycheck every two weeks, a new car that didn’t require constant maintenance, a boyfriend who I lived with and sometimes laughed with, new clothes, a new respect from others that I had never experienced before:

“So what do you do?”
“Me, oh I’m a teacher.”

It felt good to say those things, I felt like I was finally cleaning up my act.

Oh Mother Fate, you really got a kick out of that didn’t you … me standing there feeling self-conscious and staring at Jack who felt equally as strange.

“Can I help you?” I said, angry that I sounded like a store clerk, afraid that I was too formal.

“Yeah,” he stammered, “I just have to leave now for an appointment. My mom should be outside waiting.”

I was completely lost in his awkward gaze, then silence. I forgot everything, and he just looked at me.

“Oh …” I laughed. “Sorry! I must need coffee, just sign here.” I pointed to a sign-out sheet, laughed awkwardly, and snorted a little. I don’t think he noticed, at least he pretended not to.

“Okay, well have a good day Miss Guida,” he said as he walked out the door.

“You too, Jack. Good luck!”

"Good luck? Why the hell did I say good luck?” I thought to myself.

I excused myself from the office for a moment, and went into the faculty bathroom to beat myself up a little, and to make sure that I didn’t look totally horrible. I sat in a stall, buried my head in my hands, and cried like a baby out of complete frustration, embarrassment, and uneasiness, repeating “Miss Guida, Miss Guida.”

When I got up to fix my face, I chastised myself in the mirror, growling, “Stop it Ana; Don’t fuck up again, Ana.” I was greeted by a fellow teacher who caught me in mid-sentence, so I immediately feigned a contact lens problem, even though I have never worn them in my life.

It seemed that the more I tried to fight it, the more I felt. It was different; I knew him. That is where you must have sealed the circle connecting our tapestries with the brilliant color of hope, because after that incidence, even though it was contrary to my newly found rational judgment persona that I had recently developed, it was all that I could find myself doing.

That evening after I stayed after for play practice, I walked out into the night parking lot sprinkled with a handful of cars belonging to custodians and myself, maybe a lingering coach of some kind. I dropped my life as a teacher into the passenger seat, and I slid into the driver’s seat, took a deep breath and tried to bury my feelings somewhere in my soul.
I wiped a few lingering tears, and tried to concentrate on the life that I knew in the little mountain town in PA. I turned the ignition, and clicked on the radio:

“Coming up The Police, Led Zeppelin, and Boz Skaggs.”
“What a mix,” I thought as I stuffed my mouth with bubble gum, trying to kill my urge for multiple cigarettes. And as I pulled onto the interstate, the low drown of The Police’s, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” cradled by Stuart Copeland’s reggae drums overcame the silent air in my car; “Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy.”

Now that was a dirty trick Mother Fate; that song sent me into yet another tailspin. Granted I realize that I could have simply changed the station, but secretly, as you know, I enjoyed the drama; there just wasn’t enough in my new life. That must have been the moment where you stuck the embroidery needle into the tapestry for the moment, to call it a rest. I felt the prick, and heard your giggle.

Tell me Mother Fate, do you do all of this for the sake of your own entertainment? Are we simply your pawns, your puppets, your dolls?
Regards, Ana

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