She wears headphones. She is surrounded by throngs of people. She pays them no attention. She is wearing a backpack and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist. Her plain green t-shirt matches her green converse sneakers, and her jeans allow her to blend into the crowd as though she isn’t there. Her headphones play her favorite country music, which she subtly moves to as she walks through the masses of people. Her music, she feels, is slightly out of place here – not that anyone else will notice. They are all in their own worlds of tourism, clicking their smartphone pictures, posing with family and friends, having loud (too loud) conversations and not caring who hears them. She finds it annoying and distracting, which is what lead to putting on her headphones to begin with. So what if it is out of place here?
She walks slowly through the galleries, taking in each piece for it’s own merits. She loves even the ones she doesn’t like. Each line, each swirled glob of paint fascinates her. She thinks of the times she watched her mother paint. When she was in her creating zone, there was no getting through to her. In her younger years, she took advantage of this situation, asking for things she knew her mother would normally never allow, but knowing she would get away with it if she timed it just right.
It wasn’t until her mother died that she really appreciated the passion she had put into her art. That’s what brought her to this museum today. She loved seeing the passion each artist put into their work. She appreciated all kinds of art, but painting was what she most loved to see. She had rebelled against her mother and NOT become an artist herself. Well, not in the way her mother was.
She stops in front of one piece in particular. Her eyes start to water. She takes it in – each color, each stroke, each minuscule part that makes up the painting as a whole. A tear falls over the brim of her eyelid and slides easily down her cheek. It catches at the bottom and drips off of her chin. She briskly wipes it away with one hand, a movement meant to blend in, to not draw attention to her tears. The rest of the tears follow silently. The heart aching sobs had subsided for some time. These silent tears were all the were left of her grief. Sometimes they stayed away while she was at museums, and she was hoping today wouldn’t have been different, but no such luck. In an effort to stem the ebb that had begun so suddenly she turns to move away from the painting that opened the floodgates. But she can’t do it. The painting pulls her back in. Here: in this time, in this place, it’s like being back in her mother’s studio. She looks at the painting for a long time. Minutes? Hours? She has no idea. Her aching feet bring her back into the moment. She sighs deeply and moves away from the painting. As she moves, she realizes she must have been standing for some time. She no longer recognizes any of the people around her, and her body aches all over. In her hand is a small bunch of soaked through tissues. She deposits the tissues into a trash can as she passes by. The rest of her museum trip is tainted with sadness now. She can’t appreciate each brush stroke like she could when she first arrived. She feels burdened and lightened at the same time.
She makes her way to the exit of the massive building. As she walks out the doors, she turns into the cool, warm breeze of a not quite summer day and walks toward the park. A lock of her inky hair gets caught up in the zephyr and drapes across her face. The streak of silver through it sets her heart to ache anew. She wonders what her mother would have thought of having grey hair. She closes her eyes on a sigh and lets the love she has for her mother fill up her soul.
She finds a grassy patch near a tree, spreads out a blanket and lays down with a book. Around her she notices all the people with their e-readers. She just can’t give up the feel, and smell of the pages. She vows to herself, as she has several times before, that she will never buy a screen to do her reading from. As she soaks in the words on her treasured pages, the sun is freed from the cloud that has been obstructing it. The burst of warmth is soothing and makes her feel at peace.
The sun lures her from the words on the pages in front of her into a soft mid-day slumber. She dreams of swirling paint, books, museums, and her mother.