Sunday, October 26, 2014

True Colors

Today's writing prompt:

Local Color

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

What a strange question.

As far as I'm concerned, there are two ways to go here: either something personal from my life, that I've had for a long time and that has always been very important to me, or, alternatively, something of great public importance, like a work of art.

Sitting here, trying to think of something I've owned since childhood, I realize that there just aren't that many things. The blanket that my childhood dog died on is what I consider to be my most important material possession, but it's a fairly bland color scheme-- red, with a sort of plaid black and yellow. I could live without it being full color, and, in fairness, I don't know quite where it is.

There was a pillow when I was young that was, to me, a security blanket. It was called "Pilly", and the pillow case on it (which is what made it so special, though I'm told it went through many iterations as it got worn out) was a brilliant, satiny pink. The material, I'm told, was made from old curtains of my grandmother's, though even as I type that, I feel compelled to check my facts, as it's impossible to imagine curtains being that pink and shiny. I don't know where it-- "she", the way I thought of her then-- now, though she's gone in and out of my life a few times since childhood. Every now and then someone would find her in the attic and she would become part of my daily life again, for a while, though in a much more passive way. My mother put her under the Christmas tree, once: one of her classic re-gifts to take advantage of our nostalgia in order to a put a few extra packages under the tree in lean years.

I don't know how many more times in my life I'll think too hard about Pilly-- if I never see her again, I won't miss her particularly, I guess, though perhaps it would be a good idea to dig her up again and give her to Ezra, my son, for Christmas.

Either way, if I ever saw her again, and she were not that same, shining pink, I think it would be far too much to handle.

The option, of course, is to be magnanimous. I suppose great many people would choose a great work of art as their one object-- especially if they lived in the cities where those works of art are stored, as any photographs of them would not be in color any longer. But if I were the one person, or one of only a few, who were given this option, I would probably go with something famous and beloved. My personal favorite painting is Jack Vettriano's "The Singing Butler", but it's so modern and...I don't know, broadly appealing to the point of being almost commercial, I would't feel right.

I've never particularly liked Monet, but if I had to pick one famous painting, I guess I'd go with one of the large water lilies, with the canvasses that take up the whole wall. Again, they've never been particularly to my taste, but they mean so much to so many. And I honestly can't think of a single painting that would be less effective in grayscale.

Personally, I far prefer the Mona Lisa, all beguiling and understated on her small canvas in The Louvre. But, as is the way of a great woman, I think she'd be capable of holding her own, despite the change. Women have been getting by with less for generations, and she's been watching the whole time.

I wrote a song about Monet-- or inspired by his art, at least-- the other night. Dan and I had just gotten into a fight and I came upstairs to give him space, as I am learning to do.

The gist of the fight is that he is constantly making it clear to me, in one way or another, that, although he loves me, he'd love me better if I were happier. We first got together under such different circumstances-- I was a happier person, maybe. More productive, perhaps.

Probably neither, really. But when we were first falling for each other, none of that was his problem. He only saw the version of me that I became when I was with him, far away from my everyday life.

That angle of that person, who lived under those circumstances and felt, albeit intermittently, those things...that's who I fell in love with.

Dan and I have our problems, and I know that a lot of them start with me. But I can't help but believe that a lot of them come from this sense I have that I'm a constant disappointment to him. That I can't live up to what he thought of me back then. That he doesn't...really love me.

"To you, I'll always be a Monet:
So beautiful from far away.
But when you close in to undress,
I'm just a great big mess."

The rest of it is suitably high-minded and unrelatable to anyone with a below-average knowledge of art history, but I hope to get a piano part written within a few weeks, and get it recorded. Dan has mixed feelings about helping me with a song that's basic theme is that he doesn't love me for who I am ("But our love has a tainted core/I'm just a painted board.").

Still, he will do it. He will help me. He is my partner in song-writing, and, somehow, in everything else in life. Whatever kind of painting I am, whether I'm a messy impressionist piece or the Mona Lisa herself, he's the stalwart patron of mon petit musée. For now, he is living with my true colors, whether he wants to or not.

Maybe we can speed up this whole black-and-white thing, and give he and I a fighting chance.

Day 13. On with it.