–Mary Tiler More
If I could find this tile, it would all be okay. Maybe not okay right away, but okay someday. Maybe even soon. But, hey, okay someday is good, too. Except I am lying. Everything okay really, really soon would be an incredible bonus.
The tile is about whimsy and setting it free from our sadness. Believe me, I want to let the whimsy out. I want to set the whimsy free. And for a few minutes each day, the whimsy hovers above me, around me, but only ventures so far before it perches once again on my shoulder, sighing that another day is past and it is still compelled to return to the sad side.
I hunker down in my apartment, long after the wine is gone and my neighbors are still laughing with one another. Oh I was out there with them, drinking wine, smoking even though I don’t smoke, begging a home-cooked meal from the cute downstairs neighbor. My new girlfriend neighbor is the reason all this action is happening in front of my door. She is the reason we are noticed, laughing, talking, telling the “bad boy” stories. Her whimsical fairy embraces this freedom every minute of every day.
I am done telling my story, even as she repeats hers to each and every neighbor–even the 23-year-olds who are newly graduated from a preppy college up north, whom we have collectively nicknamed “The Fraternity,” and whom are never allowed to meet RG Daughter. The Fraternity aside, my girlfriend neighbor’s story is filled with energy and hope. Just as she is. And every neighbor is drawn to it, and to her.
Mine is the story no one wants to hear, because it is so pallid and staid. It is the “Yeah, whatever, been there” story. Except to me, of course. Because it is a first for me, and thus it all feels quite new and original and compelling. But when I tell it to these 30-somethings, they almost shrug with indifference. Because they never would have allowed what I allowed to happen to me to happen to them. Because they are that much more savvy about dating and relationships despite their being so many years my junior.
I am that much more dense, and they could care that much less.
So I knew I had to find the tile, because of all the stories I have read on this remarkably creative blog, this was the one that actually spoke to me. Because God knows it is long past time that I set free my personal, whimsical and adventurous fairy and just let her be. Long past.
I felt a little silly perusing the shelves of cookies and sauces and pastas and a zillion other gourmet deli items at 9 a.m. But the tile had been hidden in this market late the afternoon before, so I knew I was likely the first one to look for it.
“Can I help you find something?” asked the young worker.
“Um, yes, actually,” I said, still looking around for the “Toilette” sign, beyond which I knew the tile to be. “I want to buy some really great pasta and other items to cheer a friend up. She’s Italian and she cooks, so…” I was rambling.
“Oh, well, any of these are good,” pointed out the worker. “And over here, we have all kinds of aged vinegar.” Which was when I spotted the Toilette sign. But it was clear that this was not a public restroom. Hmm. Time to be brazen.
“Would you mind terribly if I used your restroom, then I’ll gather some of these items for my friend.”
The worker looked at me, and I could tell she was considering saying no, but she sighed and waved me back. “Yeah, sure, go ahead.” Gee, thanks!
I maneuvered around in the tiny bathroom, trying to be very quiet as I opened the under-sink cabinet door. I scanned the back, then the left side. No tile. I glanced at the right side, and just as I was about to close the door and call it another unfulfilled search, I saw the rough edge behind the yellow top of a can of a lemon-something cleaning product. I slid it out.
My first surprise was how large it was. My second was how colorful it was. My third was that I had actually found it! I flushed the toilet for effect and lamented how this beautiful tile was way too large to even pretend to hide in my purse. So I simply carried it out with me. What the hell, right?
The worker was only too happy to pull together $48.59 worth of various food stuffs for me to purchase for my girlfriend neighbor. When I placed the tile on the counter to count money from my wallet, she said, “Hey, that is really cute!”
Cute? The tile that will comfort and cajole me to let it all go and be happy in my life and with myself once again? The tile that will give me permission to no longer beat myself up for being so stupid about the boy, the idea of even considering a boy like that, of dating anyone for that matter…. I bore even myself as I think this to myself for the billionth time.
That tile? Cute?
“Yeah, it is, isn’t it?”