At 55 and Change, we promote taking risks, trying something new, and keeping up with the times. Difficult!
Sometimes taking a risk is as simple as writing a story. So, here’s a little fiction story, just to pass the time!
Blue Velvet By Amy Swen
Click click, click click. The rhythmic tapping of our heels echoed through the marbled hallway as we hurried along the Louvre corridor.
“Mesdames et Messieurs, nous avons seulement quinze minutes jusqu’a a la femeture.”
With just fifteen minutes to spare, my grandmother and I searched longingly for Le Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. This reclining nude had become the hallmark of my freshman year at art school. For a graduation present my adoring grandmother had taken me on a trip to Paris, and seeing this painting was first on our list of activities. The Louvre had recently moved the painting to a different location and despite some communication issues, we had finally located the general area where it could be found.
The blue velvet fabric draping across the wall and onto the woman was my favorite aspect of the composition. The material was like a lapis sea encircling the subject. I loved this painting and at one time was assigned to create a life-size representation. I had purchased a piece of blue velvet fabric and created my own masterpiece rendition. Although I truly enjoyed this project, seeing the actual painting was my heart’s desire.
As a spotted the painting across the room, I could feel the beat of my heart pounding with emotion. I was a statue, unable to move. Seeing the subtle turn of her face, our eyes met and I connected with the woman, Ingres, and all that is art.
I had forgotten about the velvet fabric until just recently. It began with a trip to the upstairs attic.
The door made its familiar creak as the attic welcomed me into its dusty haven. The light splintered across the floor in a zig-zag pattern guiding me in. Inspiration for a Halloween costume had brought me to this place of intrigue. My daughter Sarah, being four years old, was perplexed by the smells and quietness of the attic. She was a carousel in this stoic environment. The room was in quite an upheaval. It was being quite inconsiderate and appeared to have temporarily lost its mind.
I opened a large wooden chest and began to unveil the contents; old hats, jackets, books, and a few photos presented themselves. The blue velvet fabric piece lay folded on the bottom of the pile – a reminder of my youthful days at art school, my favorite painting, and especially my European trip with my beloved grandmother. The soft velvet soothed my soul as I brushed it against my face. It looked majestic and I knew right away that a little princess outfit could be fathomed with just a few snips.
I closed the chest and as I glanced towards the door, Sarah picked up my grandmother’s doll. Alexandra was her name. As a child I had spent many hours dressing and undressing her. My grandmother loved to have her out whenever the grandchildren came for a visit. Alexandra would take center stage as we combed her hair and fussed with her. Our imaginations flew as Alexandra took on the many roles of our games. My fondest memory is when I had the chicken pox and Grandmother Mutti brought her to me for comfort. I cherished those memories and noticed how the years have taken its toll on little Alexandra. Her ruffled hair and torn cream linen dress was a reminder of the many years gone by. As we exited, Sarah gently sat the doll back on the rocking chair by the window.
To my delight, my daughter Sarah adored the blue velvet fabric! It took on a magical essence and she loved the soft feel of it on her skin. I cut a hole in the center of the velvet piece and graced it over her head. It hung down her small frame. For a crown I took some cardboard and cut out a crown shape and then folded aluminum foil around it to create a shiny effect. With crown and royal dress, she was a princess like no other! She beamed with joy and excitement.
On Halloween night she wore her blue velvet gown and crown proudly. Trick-or-treating door to door, under my close supervision, yielded a pillowcase full of candy. The nightly ritual of splashing it out onto the carpet and sorting the good pieces from the bad, took most of the evening. Sleep overcame her, as Sarah appeared to lose interest with the blue velvet. She discarded it like a worn blanket in a heap on the floor.
The next morning I returned to the attic as it definitely was in need of some care. A tear ran down my cheek like a wet kiss as I spied my dear grandmother’s doll looking ragged and worn. I knew what I needed to do. I cradled Alexandra in my arms and gently removed her clothing, as I had done so many years before.
Later that afternoon, as I lay her on the stairs to return her to her upstairs home, I gave one last straightening of her blue velvet dress. Grandmother would have loved it. Art, love, and family treasure- all rolled into one.