Friday, August 17, 2001

Spring, 1995

One of the many wonderful gifts I've been given over the years. This was from boyfriend #2, a trip to Paris together. His itinerary was much fuller than mine; I wanted to be out in the parks and public spaces, just people-watching, and absorbing, and of course, re-visit the Musée Picasso (I had been for the first time in the summer of 1985). At the time I didn't fully appreciate his insistance on packing the first few days so full of museums and landmarks; and when we were in the museums, I found it slightly amusing that he would quickly, and meticulously, check for certain works, almost like he was taking inventory. Of course, he worked in a museum, and he loved this stuff, and wanted me to, as well.

But the amazing thing was, once we were inside a museum, he never rushed me. While he wanted to make sure we saw a lot, he also would stand back, without me ever asking, and just let me become totally absorbed in various works. I was surprised at how a painting, or sculpture, could jump out at me, and intrique me, and make me get all quiet and insular, or giggly, or yeah, cry. It was very emotional for me, in that fantastic "why-don't-I-do-this-more-often?" way. I wandered, or sat down for long periods, staring, waiting for crowds to move away; and all the while he would keep his eye on me, so I would get the most out it, without imposing on me. And every once in awhile, he'd put his arm around me, firmly, not really knowing what I was feeling, or thinking, but knowing it was good, and knowing how happy he'd made me bringing me there.

This was the trip when I learned that there was a term for my favorite Picasso "style" - classicist, and after that time, I've sought these out. Later that day, we wound up at the Musée de l'Orangerie, the place with Monet's waterlillies (it was our 5th museum of the day, and tired, I briefly sat on this ledge, only to have this loud siren go off, and dozens of tourists giggle and point at me!). But walking through the galleries, in the distance I spotted something we didn't know was there, another Picasso, and I approached it step by step, slowly taking it all in. This teeny picture of it of course doesn't do it any justice, but this is when it all began to fit together. I suddenly realized that another of these had been with me all the while I was growing up on the south side of Chicago. I remembered my mother bringing it home, and making a simple plain frame for it, staining it herself, and she hung it in our living room. I've never seen the original, and as much as I know it would be cool, it isn't necessary to go to Washington to see it; I grew up looking up at it when we unwrapped xmas gifts, and when our parents would dance to Simon and Garfunkle for us, and during the fights we had with our parents when we were teenagers. At the time I didn't even know it was called The Lovers, but thinking about all this, the bf came up along side me, and took my hand, and we just quietly enjoyed another beautiful moment.