When I decide on something, I’ve decided. It means I’ve thought it through, weighed the pro and cons and made my decision. I don’t care to go through it ad nauseam,over and over again.
I was going to Eastern Europe and no amount of other people’s drama was going to stop me. Besides, people had been talking for ages about what a good thing Russian independence would be, right? So there you are. I was going to see it. My boyfriend was there. He was Polish. Leszek Piechowski.
Maybe a quick paragraph of back story is in order here. I’m skipping around. I started off just randomly writing about 1991 and now…well, back in 1989 or so I was dating a Scotsman. From Glasglow. He was great. Talented, smart, ambitious, funny and social. Maybe a little too social. He loved going out and the upshot was he drank too much. Almost all the time. I was getting a little tired of it. It’s boring to be around an alcoholic and I wasn’t his mother and I wasn’t going to nag him. He knew he had a problem.
Then he lied. To me.
I believed him. When he said his best friend Tony was having a fight with his significant other. I believed him. I didn’t mind leaving Tom’s apt so he and Tony could catch up and talk it over. I believed him. Now think of how naive I was. A scotsman who wants to talk things over and catch up with a good friend. A fellow producer, no less. Tom was a Glaswegian. From the Gorbals. Most of you out there won’t understand that reference but I’ll say, in short, it’s like being from South Central LA. He was a tough guy, my Tom. Tough, smart and a Liar.
I went to see my sister, the same one I currently live with, she was just down the street. Want to have a drink? She said she had visitors from Seattle. A guy she’d met a couple of months ago, a fisherman, was back in town and he had a friend. I said Lets take them to the Sylvia, a lovely, ivy covered old hotel on the ocean, for a drink. We walked in and guess who was sitting there with a redhead in his lap?
My boyfriend, Tom. I should say my ex-boyfriend.
The rest is history. I already had my new boyfriend sitting right in front of me. I broke up with my Scotsman, who tried to turn the tables and demanded to know who Leszek was, and planted a long kiss on Leszek. Immediately. I was like Jamie Lee Curtis in a Fish called Wanda. Just a sucker for an accent, I guess. Plus, Leszek was very handsome. Very, very fit. Not a drinker. He was a painter. He said ‘I would like to paint you.’ and lemme tell ya…whew! My sister rolled her eyes, I saw her, thinking ‘God, she’s NEVER going to go for that old line.’ But I did.
Leszek wasn’t a good artist. He couldn’t draw well. He couldn’t paint well. He wasn’t good at much art related. No taste, no eye for color or movement. No passion. Well. Not for art.
He treated art as a source of income. I was fascinated. My father is a good, no, a great artist. My brother makes a living at it, he’s so good. In my family we are all good. We all learned to draw. Leszek looked at it as a suckers game. He would paint Indians with war bonnets. Looking noble. And super clean cut. Indian princesses were also a speciality. With spotless white doeskin dresses and feathers in their hair and impossible beadwork. Impossible. Leszek didn’t care about Native American people or their heritage. They sold. The pictures of them sold like hotcakes.
He didn’t bother with horses or backgrounds. They were A: too hard and B: pointless. No body looks at the background. And if he was going to paint in a horse, well, that was a whole other picture. Horses were hard. Indian Princesses were easy. After you had done 10,376 I guess they would be. He would happily paint an Indian standing in front of a cliff dwelling. With a war bonnet on. And war paint. I would tell him that those kinds of head dresses were worn by Lakotas, Sioux, Cheyenne and Cree. The tribes of the Great Plains. Not the southwest.
I would point out that the indians who lived in the cliff dwellings were the Anasazi and that they were living there about 500 BC. That the culture had died off about the 13th century and the cliff houses were abandoned. That the culture of the Anasazi was a flat out mystery even to the Native Americans.
He’d paint another one. And sell it.
I gave up. After all, it was his story. He was selling these paintings to tourists. They apparently didn’t know or care about the culture. Who was I to be so picky? Right?
But it bothered me. It seemed like…I don’t know. Like he was taking advantage of those tourists. It wouldn’t have been hard to do an authentic painting of a real native chief. There are lots of documented photos. But he didnt want to paint from photos. He wanted $150, sometimes more. If it wasn’t Indians it was greek villages. With the white washed houses and the blue blue ocean. Over and over again.
I was in love. I could overlook bad art, being in love. I could do it. But not forever.
Leszek went to go visit his family in Poland and asked me to come along. That was fine but I had to get time off work and pay down some bills and get my ducks in a row. I wasn’t a gallivanter. I did it. I bought my damned ticket and I flew to London and I was going to get my visa come hell or high water. I was ready for my first European vacation with an authetic Polish artist.
I didn’t really know him that well, it seems.
More later. Tomorrow is my long chemotherapy so maybe I’ll finish this then. Dreaming of different times. Back in the day when I was still able and willing to argue a point. Those people in the London Visa office didnt know what was coming.