lI was early picking up our California Rolls and wonton soup tonight, so I sat on the little plastic chair in the foyer of the restaurant. I noticed the cute Asian guy making our sushi and the cute Asian waitress leaning against the wall in front of him flirting and talking with him in their native language. She was the inspiration of this new post. Smiling and batting her sweet eyelashes, she stood framed under the bright pink neon light running the length of the dining room, her head disappearing from my sight at times behind the little American flag stuck in the pencil holder on the hostess counter. A living, 21st century Norman Rockwell painting.
lThe pink flowering trees are undressing all around me. They are dropping their petals, creating a pink ground cloth, an almost grander statement underneath the tree than when they wore them fluttering on each arm and finger. Coming home from an appointment on Tuesday, I drove slowly through one of the richest, stately towns in the area. As my gps wound me through an unfamiliar and breathtaking neighborhood, I saw the most beautiful pink blanket, like a silk shawl draping down the gentle roll of a front yard and curving over the walk that stretched down the long, shady street. Even their dropped petals were the richest and finest around.
lSean and I went to Princeton with my parents this week. They like to buy their tea from an Asian shop a block away from campus. Dad also wanted to see Princeton's art museum, so we wandered onto the quiet campus. In front of the museum there was a sculpture, a dozen or so pairs of giant legs maybe twelve feet tall, dark, in step, striding, bodiless. Dad encouraged Sean to go walk among them and he obliged, darting and peeking, laughing and then finally coming to a stand between two pairs, his legs wide apart in a mimicking stride, chin up, looking straight ahead in pose.
lA fossa and its habitat. This was the diorama Luke had to create for his class trip to a nearby college for an endangered species lesson. We worked on it together. I held the hot glue gun and squirted, he quickly affixed the trees, rocks, scrubs and animals where he wanted them. He'd already colored the backdrop and glued it on himself. There were three tiny plastic white birds glued to the back that appeared to be flying over the otherwise still scene. Next morning I dropped him off at school, left my car and went for a walk with a friend who met me there. After the walk, we stood talking in the street near my car and I happened to see Luke's class begin to file out of the school and onto the bus. I waited for Luke to appear and finally saw his long thin figure descending the steps, taking care to steady his box, his fossa in Madagascar. He looked so sweet in line with his classmates. I remembered how I had yelled at him the night before for starting the project so late. I called, "Lukey!" He didn't hear me, but followed the child before him into the bus.
lMy art class is in a wooden studio on the top floor of an old building in a south Philadelphia neighborhood. I climb the steps and, on my way up, glance curiously into the other classrooms. The kids' sculpture class, the adult lecture class, the silent corner room with framed artwork and an empty bench, and the tiny little enclosed garden where colorful tiled art decorates the high brick walls. A cozy place, where there's always an older couple chatting and watering potted plants. So much to see within the building, I've never looked beyond. This Saturday my closest, lifelong friend called while I painted. I patted around my pockets searching, surprised the thing was ringing, then walked out of class into a little nook at the top of the stairwell. A muscular sculpture with a small head and huge hands knelt at my side. My friend is having marital problems, too many states away. I lent an ear, my painting waited. I listened and offered words while I looked out over the roofs of multicolored row homes to the two stacks on the horizon letting loose twin billows, beautiful and white, taken up by the breezes and reaching long toward New Jersey.