I don’t tell him nearly enough, but my father, who is an architecture connoisseur and long-time Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast, is a man in my life for whom I am truly grateful. As a small gesture to show him some love, I booked us tickets to tour Wrights home and studio in Oak Park. To our great surprise, we discovered that the Robie House, gem of the Wright Prairie style movement was offering gratis entry today as well. After a lunch at a Forest Park diner, where we took a seat at the counter to enjoy our lunch, we headed south to Hyde Park. And that is where we found out that the whole city was offering the opportunity to visit architectural gems, with a tour included, for free. Apparently, it had been going on all weeekend, and we had been ignorant of the facts and late to the party, as it were. But, late or not, we arrived, and it was an absolute treasure of a day. I couldn’t possibly list all the things that I not only love and appreciate about my dad, but also have had the fortune of inheriting from him as well. My time with him was incredibly fulfilling; from the dialogue and laughs to the deep understanding and appreciation for art and design. It was beautiful. Pictures cannot capture a meaningful relationship in its entirety, but they are wonderful triggers that will transport me to precisely this day for many years to come. (Featured image is Wrights home)
“Love is a Natural Disaster.” That is what my ex-boyfriend had always said. In fact, it was the title of the collection of paintings and mixed media projects he had completed. He was not only an artist who had housed his work in my gallery for the better part of six months, but also one of the greatest egoists I had met in a long time. But I was in the mood, so I let his flair for the melodramatic take up space in my gallery, my time and emotions, and, after too much wine and too many speeches about why living with me would produce the greatest work of his career, I let him take up residence in my flat as well.
After the six-month rental contract for the gallery space expired, I asked him very cordially if he could please get the fuck out of my apartment as well. He knew it was coming. But of course, he wasn’t going to go without a soliloquy about how I was making a huge mistake and so on, during which I just continued to make myself a Käsebrot. He flourished his hands through the air as he packed his painting materials, stuffing metal and other bits of material scraps into canvas bags as he reminded me for the fortieth time how inconsiderate I was being. I wish I could’ve cared, could’ve pinched some emotion back into myself, but I had become calloused to his existence since the day he began leaving bits of his long hair in the shower drain. Egotistical is one thing, sloppy is quite another.
“Love is a Natural Disaster.” Marius disagreed with this description entirely. He quipped that it may end in disaster, but on the whole, everything happens just as it may and more as it should. He was both philosopher and realist, and I found that juxtaposition suited me very well. More importantly, he was at the helm of an ever-expanding music empire, and had little to no time for pointless Quatsch. He understood my clipped and clean way of life, and admired me for it I think. The wheels of the days turned, and we found ourselves able to co-exist in a pleasant, romantic manner. We didn’t need to argue about work, schedules, or bills. He was fine with keeping separate residences, and we both certainly made enough money to keep up a certain stamina. Of course if I’m being perfectly honest, I enjoyed the prestige of his good-looks, social graces, and appreciation for a different form of art than the one he knew so intimately. He was always gracious about my necessity to mingle and go about my business, sometimes alone, and for that I respected him more than anything else. Actually, for my standards, I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone else previously.
“Love is a Natural Disaster.” Mira chuckled a little at the imagery, but I suspected she thought it could be a fitting analogy. Ever since I had seen her at the table across from Marius that first night when she made her prodigal return to Berlin, I myself hadn’t been able to shake the notion. They looked so incredibly oblivious to the world around them, so undeniably devoted to their precious time together, that, rather than joining them at the table, I found myself observing from a remote place at the bar where I sipped a vodka tonic so I could have a moment to get my head together. I ordered a second one when, the more I watched, I realized that this was the end of our world as we had known it. There was going to be a fucking natural disaster of seismic proportions, and nothing would be standing where it had been at the end.
Because I somehow like to torture myself, I refused to immediately address my speculations with Marius. I went through each day cataloging ever glance, every smile, every fucking nuance that went between them, and then I wondered angrily why I couldn’t sleep at night. Finally, when I told Marius what I thought, he managed the audacity to brush it off. This pushed me to such a precarious edge of my sanity that I even began comparing myself to her, making mental checklists of all things I had that she didn’t and vice versa. That nonsense stopped when I threw my empty tumbler at one of the stone walls of the gallery one night after having too many pity drinks. Three centimeters to the left and I would’ve ruined one of the artist’s paintings.
I’d be fucked if this shit would ruin life as I knew it.
The next day, I invited Mira for a girl’s day. The day after, we spent the entire morning and afternoon together. During the time we went about shopping and brunching, I had managed to compartmentalize the ties that held her to Marius. Over coffee at a fairly empty cafe, the callous had grown over the wound, and I no longer felt compelled to hold back the honesty of the situation; Marius was choosing her over me, and it was time that she became confronted with this disaster.
She stared at me; I don’t know if it was out of shock or because she was scandalized by my boldness, but I couldn’t give a fuck. She tried, depressingly lamely, to tell me that they were only friends from the past. And I told her to fuck off. I didn’t even bother explaining to her that I had seen my long-term partner abandon whatever it was that he had felt for me and go running, tripping all over himself, back to the flesh embodiment of his past. With reckless abandon, I yanked the lock from my bike, swung my leg over the metal bar, and rode off, hoping to never see her sorry fucking soul ever again.
I avoided glancing at the clock as if it were something horribly grotesque. Instead, I tried to keep my eyes focused on the emails I was writing, and the datebook I had propped open on my lap that I was now updating in pencil. Still, there was no avoiding it. 00:00. It had come at last. My thirty-second birthday. Verfickte Scheisse. I scowled at the ticking clock and pushed the datebook from my lap. Crossing my arms across my chest, I folded over onto my knees and wondered why in hell anyone would want to embrace something so utterly shitty as a birthday. No, this wasn’t just because I knew I was in the process of getting dumped. I had always hated my birthday. Ok, that’s probably not true—I guess I liked it when I was small. But as soon as the teenaged years came, I avoided that shit like it was a nasty virus. One year I even forbade my friends to acknowledge it. “Let me just pay for dinner and the rest of you shut the fuck up already,” I had said sharply. I was twenty-six. They had left it at that. I looked up to the blinking black cursor against the white background and cringed. Then, because I knew I would be an absolute lost cause if I didn’t, I picked up my phone and called a friend. A half hour later, I was walking out in six-inch heels and a cocktail dress, ready to start this new year; single as fuck, and grudgingly willing to dance on it.
The morning, or afternoon I should say, of my birthday, I woke up to the sweet smell of male sweat and damp sheets. I heard the sink running from down the hall and rose to drape a loose-fitting dress over my otherwise naked body. The guy who had come home with me for casual sex ended up taking me to a non-birthday brunch, as he had called it, and ended the afternoon by telling me the Vollidiot that was dumping me really wasn’t a legitimate human being. I wished more than anything that I could agree with him. He left me with a small kiss on the cheek and his phone number scrawled on an old Aldi receipt.
I had been able to do it, and I wondered at it as well as praised myself for it. Casual sex was back on the menu. Shit, at my age, I had no time to waste. The fact is, I am a woman who does have casual sex. I see no problem with getting my fill, and since I was for all purposes single, why the fuck not? It was by no means my first kick at the ball. And I realized, after the handsome brunch partner had left, that this suited me. It could get lonely, but it suited me. Now, I just wanted Marius to face his cowardice so we could put this tragedy behind us. This fucking natural disaster.