Wednesday, February 13, 2008

crying at the art school

Maybe it was the yellow snot running down my upper lip as a girl with a perfect strong chin line painted my portrait, my face puffy and old-looking. Maybe it was the coughing and hacking as I waited for the bus in the pouring rain with no umbrella in 33 degree slush. Maybe it was the condescending tone of the receptionist at the hospital when I explained that yes, I know it's the law in Massachusetts that everyone has to have insurance now, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't and 200 dollars for a round of antibiotics that only got me well enough to get sick again really doesn't fit into the budget of my pathetic semi-employed ass.

Whatever the reason I cried this morning loudly like a kid in the fifth-floor BU art school bathroom, running past the cute Northern European girl with her canvas set up in front of the stalls painting the Charles and Storrow Drive on this grey raining 10am.


"Oh my, are you crying?" says her accent.

"Yeah. Don't worry. I'm fine."

"You are the model, right? Are you okay?"

"Yeah I'm fine. Just overwhelmed."

"Sometimes I feel that way too."

"Yeah. I've just been sick for like a month and I don't have insurance and I don't have enough money to go to the doctor."

She nods. She has freckles and blond hair tied in a bandana. "I am sick all winter every year. There are many things you can do without doctors. Drink tea. Take herbs. Stay warm." She looks down at my bare feet. "You can't walk around like that in this weather."

"Oh, I don't normally. A girl was painting my feet."

She shakes her head. "She can paint something else. You must take care of yourself. So much of sickness is mental, too. You understand? Make yourself feel good. Take warm baths. Make tea. Take care of yourself. That is the most important."


Words I needed to hear perhaps. It was the first time I can remember crying since the fall, and I did it without much apology, letting the tears come down as I walked past all the painting students and the maintenance men who asked uncomfortably if I was okay. "Yes I'm fine," I said, but didn't stop crying, just walked to the bathroom to get tissue to wipe my face and nose. Your body wants things you can't always govern. Sometimes you just have to, I guess.

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