At Ian's Place - Part XII, in which there is an ending, another ending, and an open door.
Something primal had taken over. The daydream couldn’t be supported and yet I was unable to let go of it. I couldn’t do this anymore. I had to break up with someone I literally wasn’t seeing.
I had to break up with this house.
This is, in a way, one of the messiest breakups I’ve ever had because my mess isn’t real. It’s allegorical paint splashed over a bloody crime scene, such vivid and leaky whorls as will not leave their tinct. Maybe I’ve done what I do and pushed too far again, impulsive; maybe this was always the end. But I’m not comfortable here anymore. I’ve made it weird and unsettling; what’s known is unknown, and the out-of-focus has become foreground. I’ve got to end it – I’ve got to finish this big canvas and reassess my life.
The original concept for the painting was coastal, tepid, Caribbean. In an unrelated conversation, the word “sundogs” had come up; it leapt out at me and the painting begged to have them. Sundogs are a weather phenomenon which happen in cold temperature; moisture in the atmosphere is crystalline, suspended, reflecting sunlight into an optical illusion. It’s unlike the work I’ve been hanging at La Corazón de Jesus; unlike anything I’ve done before.
Suddenly I realize the lie of this Baja beach-house in the heart of dry suburbia is a perfect setting for the inner conflict of my painting. I dump my heart, my guts, my libido, my confusion, all of it into the painted aperture – a warm, dark, comforting world inside a cold reflection. I book my ticket to Dulles; I have a few days to let paint dry, drop off the finished product at La Corazón de Jesus, eat at all my favorite restaurants before I leave. I’ll be able to catch the tamale lady on Wednesday and buy a six-pack to put in my carry-on.
I think I’m just destined for love unrequited. Maybe I’m selfish with my love; nobody can understand it like I do. Maybe having an absence by my side is what feels right - business as normal. I roll up the carpet partway and pet the octopus. Leave a place better than you found it.
Out of nowhere, Ian calls. I don’t think I ghosted - did I ghost? I haven’t been bi-coastal, so there hasn’t been anything to talk about. He sometimes texts:
“Hey, what am I doing?”
referring to my blog; I usually respond with a link to the latest post. I’m still making up stuff - those serialized stories of Lo-Cal have become popular. I’m cordial; we’re cordial. No ghosting. But he’s calling.
“Hey, Libby. How’s everything? You good?” That voice smacks me like a ghost from a secret attic door that everyone really knew was there. It’s a friendly ghost. Still, unsettling, which is unsettling.
“Yeah, I’m fine. What’s up, Casper?” I have no patience for polite niceties - there is a purpose to this call.
“Phil played me that song you wrote. It’s good.”
Well, this is definitely unexpected. “Um, thanks,” I falter. “I mean, he wrote it, too. He wrote it. I just did the words.”
“We want to record it. You got a card?”
“Ian, I don’t know what that means.” I will freak out soon if he doesn’t start making sense. “Please make sense.”
He laughs a little. “I want to know if you’re with BMI. We want to register the song. You get credits, babe.”
“I liked it better when you called me man. It’s okay, yeah. I don’t need money, just go for it.” I felt him getting ready to laugh at me again. “Okay, fine. Send me money.”
“You deserve it. It’s a good song.” He walked me through the details. “You want to come out and help us record? Be great to see you.”
“I am not singing.”
“Ha, no. Consultant, like on your business card. We’ll put you down as a producer. We can have as many producers as we want.” He was enjoying this, quite a bit. “Come out. I’ll cover the ticket. Let me know what works for you, okay?”
Here is where I put my life on pause to have a million thoughts without giving an impression of panic. Ian sounded calm, happy about the project. Happy. Welcoming. Business casual, some friends getting together to make music. I would be a music-maker. Throw that on my CV, yeah? I could look him in the face, standing up, like a peer. I wanted this, and I didn’t want to open the door for myself. I didn’t want to be impulsive. But the door was open already.
“Let me think about it, okay?” I exhaled finally. I already knew I’d do it.
“Sure. Give me a call, Libby. Man.” He was definitely smiling.