Hejira

 

the crush

October 26. 2000

there's a snowstorm in my apartment!:

even the bucket's afraid of it

I've been talking to it and yelling at it and trying to beat it into submission, then I realized....it just wants to be my friend. So we're going through therapy now, I hope for a breakthrough soon.

I am still ridiculously enamoured of the urban environment. Just the notion of taking the bus and subway downtown to roam the streets of center city to buy art supplies filled me with anticipation.

I like watching the streets go by from the bus windows. I love watching the people who get on and off the bus. I invent little stories for them sometimes, where they're going, what they're doing today. Work? School? Doctor's appointment? Sometimes I sit up near the front so I can watch the bus driver. I watch him give directions to the passengers, hand out transfers, say good morning and nod acknowledgement to all those who greet him.

I love pounding down the dirty stairs of Olney terminal and into the smelly and crowded interior, weaving past panhandlers and people handing out religious pamphlets. I get to the platform, and wait for the train surrouded by dozens of people. For a moment, I like to lose my individuality, just become a face in the crowd, a crowd of black and white and hispanic and asian faces, some with heads ducked into newspapers, some with their eyes closed, catching up on lost sleep, some staring defiantly into space with the noncommital, anonymous expression you learn after living in a large city for a while.

I am crowded and pushed into the subway, too late to get a seat. I've always rode during off-peak hours, so this crush is rather new. Nearly everyone gets off at Girard (I imagine to catch the local train to other stops), so I get a seat. I ride to the end of the line, Market Street, and get off and walk to Jeweler's Row on Sansom Street. I get to Hagstoz and Sons, a jewelers' supply place. I quickly select a saw frame, some wax files and large metal file. While the cashier is ringing up the purchases, he holds up the metal file.

"Do you know this Vulcanite file is $26.50?"

I must have blanched. "Ok...then forget it..." I feel like a major ass.

A few seconds later he holds up the set of wax files. "This is $25," waiting for my response.

I felt like even more of an ass. I slunk out of there with just the saw frame, feeling like an amateur, an idiot, a dork. I'm beginning to think jewlery and metals = humilation + intimidation (and you thought I wasn't good at math).

Next was to Pearl. I got there right as it opened, got a gallon of turpenoid. No interesting anecdotes there, except they wouldn't take my coupon because my total was under $25. Bah.

I had to go to Utrecht next, so I decided to walk through part of Olde City (which is the part of Philadelphia that is, duh, the oldest, where there's all the boring historical buildings, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, yadda yadda yadda). I cursed myself for not bringing my camera, because some of the buildings (mostly duplexs and apartments now) are SO beautiful. It's a really ritzy area, very upper crust, but has a nice kind of bobo atmosphere (that's bougeoise bohemian, for those of you pop culturally unaware).

The day had started out cloudy and kind of damp, but it got better as the day progressed, the sun peeking out from time to time. I neared Broad and passed the University of the Arts, mingled with the throngs of kids going from class to class, and watched the dance classes for a few minutes (the windows are facing the street). I felt oddly out of place, again...everyone had dyed hair, pierced body parts, and was dressed in a variety of colorful clothing. Me, I was just a rather dumpy looking girl in a long grey coat.

Once in Utrecht, I pretty much sealed my fate as far as this next painting is concerned. The stretchers I selected were 68 inches and 44 inches. As in, taller than me. I am going to paint a painting TALLER THAN ME. I don't know what I was thinking as I brought them up to the cashier and shelled out my hard earned money for them. I have a huge challenge to meet by doing this painting. It's almost twice the size of the one I did before, I would hazard to say.

I'm planning on painting my bathroom. Now before you think, "A bathroom? How boring!", just think about a bathroom. Tile. Shiny curvy metal parts. Smooth white porcelain. The possible reflection of mirrors and windows. Whoohoo!

I hauled these huge stretchers home, taking great care not to hit any of my fellow subway passengers. Fortunately, the car wasn't crowded (the morning rush was long over, it was about 11 am by now). I leaned my head back against the wall, suddenly very tired. I felt the train lurch and began to gather speed, the sound of the rails and the blast of the train's horn filled my ears until I couldn't hear anything else.

One Year Ago:
The usual collegial revelation that the people you thought were really cool in early September are in fact pyscho assholes who will mind fuck you at any opportunity