There she is again, staring intently at the thin-layered fresco. Still lovely and serene. With nothing but subtle emblazonment in her eyes, she embraces the moment as if it captures her soul. I feel enamored at her graceful admiration. She had become the centerpiece of my day.
What is it with her? I cannot possibly dismember any solid interpretation to break down the thought-pieces necessary to explain the moment. I am in a chain of inspiration, and that work of art is the culprit – or the blessing in disguise.
Judging by its visible texture, the old painting has a deep fascination with youth; a portrait of a young queen befitting of a prize gazing ubiquitously at anyone who gazes at it. If that art is alive, it knows perfectly well that I admire its avid spectator; with its panoptic eyes, it must have seen me too.
It has been hours since she’s standing in awe and I am surprised at the calmness I have disposed myself complementing her adoration. Am I stalking? Perhaps not if I cover with evasive glances to other things, like this bust of a gorgon for instance. I always find it strange. The snakes in its head seem to portray agility but in its face are tinted and compound eyes evoking staleness. But more than this stone-art’s irony is the lesson it teaches: never desecrate a wise goddess’ abode. Wait, did I become part of that lesson too? Where did she go?
I guess I lost her, again. But this time, I get to know a little about her. Like puzzle pieces waiting to be joined together, on my personal estimation; what a new low! Sticking out of her sling bag was White Teeth of Zadie Smith; the last time was Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star. That is enough to tell me her preference. And was that a wrapped violin stick too? It’s hard to tell since there was no violin somewhere. Her keen posture really didn’t give much of a clue; but her solemn aura is a hint. She is, in an understatement, beautiful beyond all she seemed. There is something. There is something that I’m missing – I was obviously blinded with how she is.
The first time I’ve seen her was a bit bizarre: she was wandering around, pandering over a replica of an old mesquite, then to a meadowlark resting in a penstemon caricature, and then was stuck with a painting of reeves flocking together. Nothing extraordinary. Nature lover? Ornithologist? I wouldn’t deduce that much. But she had this cute flowery headdress and a fancy dress that suggests a clumsy kind of cheerfulness – school girlish I may say, but the way she parades it is just magnanimous. It is the second time that I’ve seen that dress on someone but it must be pure coincidence. Her black hair swung gracefully when she picked her fallen kerchief that day. The mild tone of her cheeks made them bloom like fair carnation, her lips adding to the physiognomy of elegance. I remember fancying that if she can take a time off of her seriousness and give the world a smile, I would rest my case and live forever. That day, she didn’t, but it drove me mad all the more.
What else? Oh, I don’t know why I am quite particular with it but her earrings are not the usual kind: neither pearly nor gemmed. And man, whatever she’s doing, she has to stop making her hands wet after using them with force; the veins are slowly starting to get visible; on my angle, I suspect it is her overspray of the ethyl alcohol in one of her bag’s knitted side-pockets. Nonsense. I guess I’ll see her on another Saturday then; must be her only break from a week’s work. I should also work early henceforth. People had a lot of curatorial questions this season. Closing time.
“What is her name?” Andrea repeated, catching my attention.
“Your weekly muse. You weren’t that good in espionage. We’ve been walking for about half an hour and you still were in your usual pensive passivity. If it weren’t for me, you’d probably bump into a post or something. But there is not much that you would think of these days. You seem stable with what is going on in your routine. A little mechanical but you’re good. The new set of Renaissance collection has been stacked in clean order, just as you requested. Lucy is happily wandering without her mega-chaperon big brother this time. So I am going to take a hard guess and conclude that it’s the girl. C’mon, you can spill that on me.”
Andrea is still being Andrea. I must be a terrible person for giving her a smirk for a reply. She’s used to it anyway. Analyzing things could be such a burden. It was not for fun, nor born out of ennui, but mere habit. I may not be good at espionage but I can very much identify Andrea with just a glance in the guise of neglect. She can be chatty and comic but she’s hurt, also longing for that ‘moment of transcendence’, a phrase she would always use whenever we converse over coffee. But she’s strong. Even if she manages to hide the perplexity within, knowing her just made it easy for me to tell that she’s doing an incredible job at posing an illusory smile. I’m not fond of patronizing but I keep a valuable comment in my mind in appreciating something beautiful. Andrea does not need compliments anyway; she can detect honesty and shrug everything as flattery otherwise; except when she’s really down, I feel obliged to make her feel good about herself: anybody could use attention. With that in mind I do think her fair complexion earned for her the praise and admiration of everybody else. And I can certainly agree. How we ended up so close and rest ourselves contented in the museum is a long story. But working together for two straight years now, she probably never hinted something romantic. That is a case we’re both good at: we knew very well what is at stake so any kind of advance on the relationship would tantamount to a lifetime of nostalgia. And nostalgia is better off without reality. That being said, we want to keep things on the level of reality; that the things that are beyond us shouldn’t be possessed but only because they cannot be possessed. No, we’re not hopeless romantics. Just in consensus with the psychological assertion that friends who don’t fuck together, stay together. Let’s just leave it at that.
“Her name is Cecilia.” I mumbled. “I looked it up in the logbook, penned in cursive but with no surname. No I am not delusional. It’s just the way things are. Curiosity got a hold of me so I allowed it. Besides, didn’t she remind you of someone?” I finally gave her something to ponder.
“Ooh. He got a nameee… creepy” she boisterously made fun of it. “And No. She isn’t familiar at all. Why would we have a lot of common girl friends? She can be a doppelganger from your past but don’t include me in it, Mr. déjà vu. Also, the way that you say it almost sounded like she reminded you of elation and grief. Maybe it’s just me, but every time you soften your words like you were muttering something, I am always 100% right that you are making yourself miserable again.”
“It’s because I am.” I clarified. “My memory is failing me. The fact that I cannot immediately associate memories to things into the present quickly makes me sad. And I didn’t mean acquaintance. What I meant was, is there any possible instance that I shared to you a similar experience? Not that I have that much experience with women but the significant ones surely passed my lips. It’s making me eerie. It was the first time I saw her but I’m having the intuition that I already knew her. Can you at least remind me of this whatsit?”
“Sure, but let’s find a place to eat somewhere. I’m starving and it’s getting dark.”