Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little Depressing (goes with the gray skies)

The day her fiancé left, Amanda went walking in the Colonial cemetery off Garden Street. The gravestones were so worn that she could hardly read them. They were melting away into the weedy grass. You are a very dark person, her fiancé had said.

She walked home and sat in her half-empty closet. Her vintage nineteen-fifties wedding dress hung in clear asphyxiating plastic printed “NOT A TOY.”

She took the dress to work. She hooked the hanger onto a grab bar on the T and the dress rustled and swayed. When she got out at Harvard Square, the guy who played guitar near the turnstiles called, “Congratulations.”

Work was at the Garden School, where Amanda taught art, including theatre, puppets, storytelling, drumming, dance, and now fabric painting. She spread the white satin gown on the art-room floor. Two girls glued pink feathers all along the hem. Others brushed the skirt with green and purple. A boy named Nathaniel dipped his hand in red paint and left his little handprint on the bodice as though the dress were an Indian pony. At lunchtime, the principal asked Amanda to step into her office.

You are like living with a dark cloud, Amanda’s fiancé had told her when he left. You’re always sad.

I’m sad now, Amanda had said.

The principal told Amanda that, for an educator, boundaries were an issue. “Your personal life,” said the principal, “is not an appropriate art project for first grade. Your classroom,” said the principal, “is not an appropriate forum for your relationships. Let’s pack up the wedding dress.”

“It’s still wet,” Amanda said.

Her mother could not believe it. She had just sent out all the invitations. Her father swore he’d kill the son of a bitch. They both asked how this could have happened, but they remembered that they had had doubts all along. Her sister Lissa said she could not imagine what Amanda was going through. She must feel so terrible. Was Amanda going to have to write to everyone on the guest list? Like a card or something? She’d have to tell everybody, wouldn’t she?

I waited all this time because I didn’t want to hurt you, Amanda’s fiancé had said.

After school, she went for a drink with the old blond gym teacher, Patsy. They went to a bar called Cambridge Common and ordered gin-and-tonics. Patsy said, “Eventually, you’re going to realize that this is a blessing in disguise.”

“We had too many differences,” said Amanda.

Patsy lifted her glass. “There you go.”

“For example, I loved him and he didn’t love me.”

“Don’t be surprised,” said Patsy, “if he immediately marries someone else. Guys like that immediately marry someone else.”

“Why?” Amanda asked.

Patsy sighed. “If I knew that, I’d be teaching at Harvard, not teaching the professors’ kids.”

Amanda tried writing a card or something. She wrote that she and her fiancé had decided not to marry. Then she wrote that her fiancé had decided not to marry her. She said that she was sorry for any inconvenience. She added that she would appreciate gifts anyway.

Her parents told her not to send the card. They said that they were coming up for a week. She said that they couldn’t come, because she was painting her apartment. She did not paint the apartment.
— Allegra Goodman, “La Vita Nuova,“ The New Yorker (via bblove)

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