Thursday, November 19, 2009

A smile for the good life.

Oh, sweet candy corn, I love you so; your first, delicate taste of honey that with every jam-packed mouthful builds into a sugary, chemical wad of paste. Why do we eat you only at Halloween?

Damn it. I just wedged two pieces of candy corn under into my mouth to resemble fangs, intending to snap my picture for your viewing pleasure, only to realize that I lost my blackberry in a bar last night. Luckily, the girl who found it is meeting me later, since I feel horribly unplugged from the matrix without it, but that hardly helps me now.

Yes, last night I found myself at the intersection of Hipsterville and Working Woman Lane, in the bar at Root Down. That place is crawling with armies of young urbanites with tattoos and expensively messy haircuts on the one hand, and herds of drab female office workers letting their husbands put the kids to bed tonight on the other. It’s not really a successful mix so much as an uninterested coexistence. Last night, however, my place at the intersection was more literal than figurative. I was there with a woman I work with, W., and another woman, C., that I met through W. but have become friends with on my own. W. is 8 years older than I am; C. is 8 or 9 years younger. W. and I get up every day and serve the needs of our kids and head off to work. C. is a free spirit and is heading back to France this weekend to continue life with her American artist boyfriend. She described their house in the countryside to me last night, and it sounded like perfection.

It’s old and made of the local stone and there is nothing to do but read in front of the fire and have sex. And make art.

I could do that.

I wonder what it would be like to be the person who can avoid the traditional trappings of American existence: the house, the car, the mall, the narrow world view. Even if you do have that bone in your body, it’s still a different ball game once you have kids. Then you have to be creative to make that kind of life work and still get your children the education and stability they need. I guess it’s made up of attempts at sabbaticals from “real life.” When I lived in Paris as a kid, one friend of mine was there with her dad who is an architecture professor at Penn. I don’t know if he was teaching or writing or doing nothing at all, but they had a nice apartment where I was exposed exhaustively to Peter Gabriel and explanations of what life was like in Philadelphia. Sometimes my mom and I would go out for Chinese food with my friend and her dad, and Siobhan and I would sit at a separate table. I’m sure our parents thought it was worth the tab not to have to share their table with two 14-year old, self-obsessed little girls.

As an aside, France doesn’t really understand the concept of doggie bags, so when we would ask for our leftovers at this restaurant they would very sweetly create aluminum foil packages in the shape of swans for us. The graceful silver birds would leak their sticky contents all the way home.

Anyway, clearly there are ways to finagle a life abroad for a year or two, but whether or not it can be orchestrated to include lots of time for art and sex is another matter entirely. Maybe when the kids are older, but then you risk your children enjoying the same things.

I got my phone back. The girl who brought it to me was from an army, not a herd.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

At my parents' house, we DO eat them all year round. They are the official house candy and live in a little lidded glass bowl on the kitchen counter. My mother has noted though how hard it has become to find them year round. I think she stocks up at Halloween.

Lovely picture. Did you ever see Dennis the Menace put Chiclets on his front teeth?