Christopher Wool’s iconographic piece. The words stenciled in red enamel. TR. Drop a line. BL.
“Or True Blue,” he offers from the stage at the Art Institute of Chicago. Artist Date 63.
Yes. And that is trouble too.
I have decided to do something I’ve done just once in my life. Leave first.
The one other time I did this, the relationship had turned abusive. I felt I had no choice.
I always have a choice, I am reminded.
There is no abuse here. Not even a relationship really. Not yet. An exploration. A friendship ripe with feelings and confessed crazy attraction for one another. And 700 miles between us.
He once commented it was 400 miles between us and I didn’t correct him. When he later said 700, I knew he had looked it up. “You’ve been thinking about this (visiting),” I said. “I haven’t stopped thinking about it,” he replied. We were on Skype. I saw myself bat my eyelashes coquettishly like a shy giraffe, without even thinking.
But 700 miles aren’t really the problem. It’s the every thing else. We are in decidedly different places in our lives. I am in the clearing, coming out of the forest. He is, appropriately so, tied up in the weeds. Almost available. Like the tables I would hover over at the bar in college, waiting to settle into. Almost.
Lately, there is more time between our communications. I find myself in knots. Wide open. Vulnerable. Uncertain of where I stand.
I wonder when I will talk to him. What is going on in his head. In his life. I don’t like it. I don’t like how I feel. This poor use of precious psychic energy.
I woke up Friday morning. As my knees hit the floor, I began crying. “I can’t do this,” I said, to no one in particular. “I need more.” Tears. Shock. Relief.
In the past, I would wedge my way into “almost available” anyway – finding an opening in a man’s attraction and desire for me. But untrue to myself and to him. Acting breezy, when I felt anything but. And soon pissed off when I didn’t get what I really needed. And lying to myself and to him about needing it at all.
This time feels different. I like him too much to ask that of him. I like me too much to ask it of myself.
All of this is running through my head, as I sit in a somewhat broken chair, listening to Wool speak. Everything he says reminds me of this relationship. My heart. What I have to do. Am afraid to do. Am afraid I won’t get the chance to do because I will either lose my nerve or he will somehow slip away without me having had the chance to speak my truth.
TRBL. Trouble. True Blue. Wool says art is most successful when it does what it says.
Does he do what he says? Do I?
I think about my vision board hanging from a wire on the wall in my apartment. Mr. 700 Miles asked about it the last time we Skyped. I brought the computer to it, showing him the words and images I’d torn from magazines on impulse and pasted on a large piece of cardboard. “Power of the Pen.” “Happiness is not for Sale.” “Effortlessly Simple.”
“In Full Bloom.” “Yourself.” ““Make love.”
“Find your true blue.” The words are small compared to all the others. In typewriter font like my tattoos that read, “left” and “write” and overlaid on a couple standing nose to nose. I pointed to the picture and the words and he just smiled.
More slides. SEX. LUV. He Said, She Said.
Wool talks about process. Creating images through loss. Drawing and erasing. Drawing and erasing. And sometimes even scraping. The tearing away became “the most interesting part.”
But he insists process isn’t that important. That the work should stand on its own.
It all seems a metaphor for my romantic life. My willingness to tear away from this man romantically to see what the universe has in store for me. For the first time – perhaps ever – truly believing I deserve more.
I wander through the exhibit after the lecture. FO. Drop line. OL. I laugh out loud. Yes. FOOL. TRBL. SEX. LUV. I am all of it.
Post Script: Later that day, I did say the words I first uttered on my knees, “I can’t do this. I need more.” To him. I felt sad and strong and sad again. But ultimately, I felt LUV. For him. For myself. True Blue.