“Let me check my schedule and ask my mom,” responded Jennifer.
Francine got Jennifer’s phone number and texted her, so they could communicate easily about getting together after school.
Francine felt really good. Talking with Jennifer had been way easier than she thought and so far she felt like her thoughts about her were spot on, she seemed real and nice.
After lunch it was choir, her favorite class. Joyfully she hurried to the room, smiling from ear to ear. Time to start work on another part of her list, getting more involved with choir and making new friends.
Rita felt like the day dragged on. Ken was still in Hong Kong and Sharon had come in for half the day, then stated that she had some meeting to attend. Of course Rita didn’t believe her, there was nothing on the calendar and whenever Ken was out of the office, Sharon took advantage. Today Rita was grateful, for she did not want to make small talk or pretend.
She found herself grateful when lunch arrived, however, sad that she did not have the magazine to keep her company. Grabbing her bag from the fridge she headed out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on the building patio space. Hopefully it was not crowded on this glorious Spring day. As she walked through the business lobby her eye caught the latest weekly publication. Realizing that she had not picked it up last week, she grabbed one on her way out the door.
Settling in at a table, Rita looked around, only a few other people were out today, “thank goodness no one I know is out here, I don’t want to visit,” she thought quietly to herself. Instead of her normal lunch a green smoothie with cheese and crackers, today she had leftovers, veggies with rice and a little sweet treat, her favorite chocolate. While she chewed her first bite, she opened the “Weekly” to see what she might find inside its newspaper print pages. Glancing appreciatively at the art on the cover she took the time to read about the artist who created it. She found herself surprised, for it was an old acquaintance she had met way back when she created her art piece for the competition. “Wow,” thought Rita, “he’s still creating art. He has to be close to my age, I remember us visiting the night of the gala when they announced the winners. If she recalled correctly, his piece had won second place.”
The memories flooded in for Rita. She felt her joy rise up as she nostalgically revisited this momentous time in her life. Playing the scene out in her mind, she reflected on her interaction with Larry prior to the announcements. Looking at his picture in the paper she smiled, he, like her had aged, however, he was still the attractive artsy person she remembered. “I wonder what he’s doing now,” wandered her mind. Back then he was single, working on an MFA at the University of Washington.
Picking up her phone, Rita Googled his name. She was shocked by all that came up. He was definitely still creating art, not only was he crafting fabulous new pieces, he owned a small little art gallery with a wine bar. Rita shook her head in disbelief. “Man, my head has been buried in the sand. All this time, someone I met and knew from my art days was still in the area not only generating his own art, but offering a space for other artists to share and connect.” Without really thinking, she clicked on text messages, pulled up Marie’s name and asked if she would be willing to join her for wine at “Swirling Creations,” Larry’s gallery. It said they had weekly wine tastings on Thursday nights, that would be perfect for her schedule, since Frank’s play did not start for two more weeks.
Flipping back to the Googled information on Larry she explored his life as much as she could. It looked like he was married. Several of his pieces had gained publicity and acknowledgement. “Ding,” her phone chimed at her. “That would be fabulous! Thanks for the invite! What time on Thursday?” responded Marie. Rita felt herself wiggle inside with giddiness. She was so excited, her insides felt like they might burst. “Oh no,” she exclaimed, her hour had zoomed past, it was time to get back to the office. Quickly she responded to Marie, “Let’s meet there at 5:30pm. Can’t wait to see the place and share time.”
Rita hurried back to her desk, she laughed at herself, for it was only her, no one was there to check on her time. It was the old work ethic drilled into her during her growing up years. Scanning her computer to make sure she had not missed any emails or correspondence from Ken or anyone else important she guiltily pulled up an incognito page to look up Larry again. “How could she focus on work,” she excused herself. “Just a little bit longer and then she would get some of the paperwork done,” she told herself.
Before she knew it an hour had passed. She had really gotten swept down the rabbit hole of the local art scene. Larry seemed connected to everyone in Seattle. Her insides twisted up between excitement, fear and jealousy. Of course the jealousy was fueled by her own self judgment and irritation at giving up on herself. “What if’s,” clung to the air like a bad smell. She knew that being mad at herself would not change anything and that yesterday was gone, all she could now was make new choices for herself. Taking out a notepad, she started to jot down all the local places for art that she found in the articles. It was time for her to reconnect with herself as an artist and to reach out to those in the world of art. Her negative thoughts disappeared as she stepped into the arena of living from the exciting now moment. Recalling the wise words from the magazine, “she was on a journey and this part of the adventure had just begun.”
To be continued… 23