Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Refuge From An Indifferent World



The house is meticulous.  Everything has a place and every place has a thing.  The couple that owns this old worker’s cottage completely gutted and replaced it with a Modernist interior.  At the time, they couldn’t legally get married.  So, they blew their money on a dream house instead of a wedding.  I could never live in this museum.  Every surface is the Perfect Eggshell White, which terrifies a slob like me.  But, it’s also the reason I’m here.

Alex “somehow” punched a hole in a wall and they asked me to repair it.  Robin’s eyes roll with every mention and I know enough not to ask.  Since I’ll have to paint anyway, they request that I touch up the various scuffmarks around the house too.  Marks that most people don’t notice, but blemishes that drive them crazy because they are so close to the ideal.  No need to buy paint.  In the basement is a large shelf with cans of the Perfect Eggshell White paint.  They ordered extra during the renovation for just such an occasion.  I did purchase a drywall repair kit, on my way over, with spackle, a patch, and sandpaper.  An expense they generously cover on top of paying me more than requested and an invitation to the fully stocked fridge.  It’s an easy job.  Plus, they want me out of the house by three so they can prepare for some kind of party.  Shouldn’t be a problem. 

There’s only so much you can do waiting for paint to dry.  In the den is the only old chair in the house.  I check myself for wet paint.  You never know.  My luck, the seat is some valuable relic from the reign of the Duke of Italy or something.  Just in case, I lay a ragged bathroom towel over the furniture.  It’s difficult to relax in such a sterile space.  But, my knees ache from hours of standing on imported marble tile.

I guess a museum needs art.  On the opposite wall is an enormous painting.  How did they get it into this room?  It’s a panorama of a great old building with columns, arches, and statues.  Kind of like the courthouse downtown.  There seems to be a party or something.  Fifty or so smart looking old white guys with beards standing around.  No ladies (I assume some are dudes with long hair since it was the style in Jesus’ time and all)?  I don’t see any food or drink either.  So, can’t be much of a celebration.  Although, one guy must be drunk as a dog since he fell up the stairs.  They all pretend to be so important with their large books and serious conversations.  There is doubt in their body language though.  The plaque at the bottom of the frame doesn’t make any sense, School of Athens.  Must have been a frame for another piece of art since they don’t even have desks or a chalkboard.

I wonder why Alex and Robin got such a huge painting?  They must have built the room around the painting during the renovation.  The time, energy, and planning for the purpose just doesn’t seem rational.  Was this an escaped impulse that somehow had a room constructed around it?  Every question leads to more questions.

Leaning toward the painting I focus on the man thinking at the bottom.  What’s his story?  He’s the only one without any interaction.  Is he ostracized or is the isolation self-imposed?  All the others are all dolled up in fancy bright robes.  Not him.  Just a simple drab coat and heavy-duty boots.  What’s he thinking about?  What’s changing in his life?  His ups, downs, and troubled waters.  What will his inner conflict lead to?  Who is he and what was his fate?  Is that what he’s writing about?

I know my destiny.  It’s to get off my ass and finish painting.





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