For a long time, I’ve been obsessed with vintage paintings of Paris. You may have seen the type I’m referring to, the impressionistic ones that look really drippy and weird from up close, but from far away begin to resemble a street full of shops and cafes, with people strolling along, and the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe in the background. I adore them—they’re not expensive and whenever I’m feeling down, I look at one and imagine myself wandering down a rainy Paris rue, and it makes me feel better. The problem is, Ken hates them:
Me: Ooh, look! A Paris painting!
Ken: You already have 10 of the damn things. No more!
Me: But this one would be perfect for my bathroom…
So now, if I see one, I have to promise I’m only buying it to resell it. Which I’ve done a couple of times, but apparently there aren’t many other people as obsessed with Paris paintings as I am, because they tend to sit in my antiques booth for a while. But last weekend, I was in the midst of rearranging furniture in the hope of turning the alcove in our bedroom into a “reading nook”, when it suddenly occurred to me that a Paris painting was exactly what the nook needed, and I knew exactly where to find one. In fact, a painting of the perfect size had been languishing in my booth for several months and I was planning on going there last Sunday afternoon to put some fresh stock in. “This is perfect,” I thought to myself. “I’ll bring it home with me.”
When I arrived, the owner greeted me enthusiastically at the door. “Guess what!” he exclaimed jovially. “You just sold those two Paris paintings, you know, the ones that have been here for months. Literally half an hour ago—you just missed it!”
“No!” I gasped. He looked confused, both of us being in the “selling of things” business, so I had to explain my lack of excitement.
“Never mind,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll find another one.”
The very next day, I did. And it broke my heart.
I was at Goodwill, a charity shop, after work on Monday to drop off some odds and ends from the alcove mentioned above. I was helping the girl unload my car, when suddenly a man sauntered past us through the parking lot. He was CARRYING A PARIS PAINTING. And it was a beautiful one, in an antique frame. I could see the Arc de Triomphe from where I stood, stunned and speechless, box of knick knacks in hand. I cannot accurately convey the sense of horror I felt as I watched him get in his car and drive away, knowing that if I’d been there half an hour earlier AGAIN, the painting would have been mine.
And because I’m a grown-ass woman, I didn’t cry, although I badly wanted to. No, I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken:
Me: The universe hates me! I just missed out on a gorgeous Paris painting by like half an hour!
Me: Why are you laughing?!
I tell you all of this not to elicit sympathy—in fact, you’re probably thinking Ken was right to laugh, and I really don’t need another painting of a city I’ve never been to—but that’s not the point. The point is, in fact, that the universe is taunting me, and I don’t know why.
Here are some thoughts:
1. The universe hates me.
2. The universe hates Paris.
3. The universe agrees with Ken that I have enough paintings of Paris.
4. The universe doesn’t care about me at all, and things are just random.
But then, as I was writing this on Saturday morning, I happened to glance up and realized that in an obscure corner of my office, there was a small Paris painting hanging there, and wouldn’t it be better placed in the new reading nook than tucked away in a spot where Ken can’t see it? See, I’m nothing if not thoughtful, and maybe the universe loves me after all.
Quilt Update: My wonderful neighbour finished the quilt I had begged her to help me with and it’s gorgeous–Ken and I presented it to Kate, for whom it was always intended, and she loves it. All my neighbour wanted in exchange for her labour and skill was a donation to the local foodbank so I made a big one in her name. And I also bought her a gift card to the liquor store as a personal thank you, because I can imagine after all that sewing, she needs a drink. I sure did.