Henri Rousseau, Portrait of a Woman (the Polish school teacher), 1895. Musee Picasso.
So, I've lived here for six years now and I pretty much have just the one local friend. I mean, there are others, but it's really only Sue that understands me, or at least , laughs at my jokes and can get together with me even without a bottle of wine.
When I go home from My One Friend Sue's house, I've genuinely enjoyed my time there and I feel like I got to be 100 percent myself, which is altogether too rare in these parts.
Can you call someone your "friend" if, after six years of get-togethers, they don't really know anything about you? I mean, don't know you're an artist? Or that you own your own business?
In that case, I think you're just a "drinking buddy." A friendship that is organized like that doesn't go deep, and it doesn't include any of the things that are really important about you. Your job is to be the audience, you've bought a bar stool ticket to watch the drinking stories of the past being performed night after night. If you're lucky, they allow some measure of audience participation.
Back to the point. The problem with My One Friend Sue (MOFS) is that she's only here in the summer. An amazing opportunity opened up this summer, though, when MOFS' husband decided to start his own company, thereby opening up the possibility of relocation from big city to here.
I lobbied hard. I even offered to home school their children, given their worries about high school graduation rates on the Reservation. I know the limits of my expertise, and I made it clear MOFS would have to find someone else to teach the Maths part. My course units were organized around "Lifestyle Skills:"
Lifestyle Skills Class Syllabus
1. Makeup for Camping; Makeup FOREVER!
2. The Miracle of Spray Paint.
3. Hair: Brush Styling for the Masses.
4. Found Objects/Functional Art.
5. Baked Goods 101
6. Nothing Unconnected Ever Occurs: Reading, Writing, Going Within.
7. Girl, In Landscape: The Art of Writing Personal Narrative.
8. Burqas for Art and Farm.
9. Are High Heels Ever a Mistake?
10. The Psychology of Theme Parties, Considered.
The painting above, Portrait of a Woman, was completed by Henri Rousseau around 1895. It is said to be modeled on a Polish schoolteacher, Yadwigha, his lifelong, unrequited love. She is said to be the inspiration behind and model for his very famous painting, The Dream. Worth viewing alongside Michael Traister's Sock Monkey Dream. Just one of the insights I would have pointed out to MOFS' kids if she'd allowed me the chance to shape their young minds.
At the end of summer, MOFS promptly loaded up her children and took them home - to their swim team and their AP Math classes. You knew that was coming, right?