You order Perrier in Paris because you can. Because everything else is wrong, but you can manage that one thing. An impossibly old man grips your wrist like he’s drowning. He tells you he once had an American lover. The day takes on carnival proportions.
You went to Paris to drink Sancerre (even though the French are bored with wine) while sitting in a wicker café chair on the sidewalk. You went to Paris to fall in love, to be seen in that particular light. What was supposed to be a moment suspended, a Mendelssohn overture, is instead an impossibly old man clawing at your arm and leaving marks.
When the rain breaks for five seconds you make a run for it. Coward. Paris is laughing at you. You can’t get close to the Eiffel Tower for the slow snake of tourists. You walk for miles to the Picasso museum only to learn that it’s closed for the next five years. You order a carafe of Sancerre but all the wicker chairs are taken.
You sleep in the fourteenth arrondissement, which sounds romantic, but you dream of work and bills and the singular anxiety of lost luggage. You’re tired in Père Lachaise Cemetery and think of laying down on the polished marble of Edith Piaf’s grave, curling against the crucified Christ.
You order food that comes wrapped in paper so you can eat while walking rather than dine alone.
The locks on the bridge over the Seine — so many that it’s someone’s job to periodically cut them off — are an unsolvable riddle. How is a padlock a romantic gesture and not a scare tactic?
But you are no one’s key, no one’s promise, no one’s lost love.
My experience as an artist so far has been that I am led down various life paths, often related to the BIG LIFE ISSUES (marriage, career, friendships, family, health scares for myself or those close to me, minor and major tragedies, national and world events) and make art in response to those experiences. The art isn’t really planned beyond “I think I’m OK at writing, so I’ll study that, and since I’ve studied it a bit, I guess that’s my main media” or “I’m sick of words and need to try to express myself through some other art form so maybe I’ll play the ukulele because it only has four strings so how hard can it be?”
In short: Art Reflects Life.
Members of Pussy Riot perform at Red Square, January 2012. Photo by Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
But now, in my mid-40s, I find myself wondering if the more meaningful creative path might be Life Reflects Art. Wherein the artist would choose an art form and follow that Continue reading
After deleting 139 photos of my ex, my photo gallery looks like I’ve only ever vacationed by myself. I suppose that’s sort of true: Me leaning casually against Hadrian’s Wall; me at Edith Piaf’s grave; me, in an optical illusion, touching the top of the Temple of Kukulkan as if it’s miniature and I’m a giant.
I can barely remember feeling hot that day, in Chichen Itza, or motion sick from the bus ride. I recall those details like an itinerary, like a packing list, like a fact that could also be a lie. Like a movie I once saw while sick with the flu that I later, inadvertently, adopted as a series of scenes from my own life. Memory is like that: Fallible, slippery. Continue reading