I’ve been walking in a dream since graduating HS in 1978. My wish: getting accepted at The School of Visual Arts in New York City.
I presented a portfolio of every piece of art work created on my own and in technical HS, where I majored in Graphic Design and Illustration. I accepted every critique from every teacher, and my special teacher, my dad.
My dad had always been my hero. He started as an artist, and saw my talent emerging at a young age. Dad believed art school was my dream, and now I didn’t want it anymore. I wanted a college away from home, with dorms and frat parties.
While at art school, I didn’t have the luxury of jumping out of bed to class. I had to commute from NJ to Manhattan. I spent more time traveling than having fun. ABeautifufter 2 years of commuting, art school lost its splendor. Although running away seemed a better excuse.
My growing discontent spread to other areas in my personal life, especially during my parents’ divorce. The haunting of my perceived failure wouldn’t go away, no matter how much pretending I did.
It was the start of the week; I was leaving SVA. East Carolina State had accepted me in their art program. Leaving home, living in a dorm, going in as a Junior, I was floating on a cloud.
It was just like any other day, except today felt different. I approached this spring morning as I counted down to the last day commuting into Manhattan. It seemed I had a smile that couldn’t be erased. I dressed in my favorite white denims, with my tan tank top to highlight my golden tan. I just wanted everyone who passed me to think, “looks like someone ate the canary.”
The day began in classes like any other day, except this was our last week and every project was due. In art school, you never have written finals; finals are projects and I procrastinated on every one.
All of my work had to be done by hand. I was unprepared for my Graphic Design piece. As usual I walked around, trying not to work on anything.
Then I met Charlie.
He was finishing his senior year and working on his final color print of the World Trade Center.
He took the photo from uptown during sunset. As an artist, sometimes you have to add things to make a beautiful scene, but Charlie didn’t need to add anything. He took a beautiful photo of a stunning building, and developed every single inch of it. I was in love.
Our eyes met and I wanted to know everything about him. I never spoke so much in my life. We both had to finish our finals, but no matter how much we got to know each other, we wanted to know more.
Charlie was a full Italian. He had beautiful brown eyes, eyelashes that any woman would pay for, and natural wavy brown hair. His olive skin was so amazing; no tan I had could ever match it. We were completely into each other. My friends always said, “Italian men are looking for more than a kiss.” I knew it in the back of my mind, but I didn’t care. I wanted to know everything about him, his life, what he would do after school, everything!
I met Charlie at 11am. After enjoying a drink, lunch, and then dinner, it was 8pm. We kept looking into each others eyes without words. Charlie said, “Joni, I’m completely attracted to you. Do you think we can get a bottle of wine and go somewhere?”
“Sure,” I said. “Let’s start walking.”
My mind was going in a million directions. Did I envision him coming home with me? If I did, then I didn’t know if I wanted a one night stand, or even a relationship, since I was leaving soon. I gave him an alternative: “Let’s go to Jersey, and you can sleep on the sofa?”
Charlie signaled a cab, “Let’s go! Oh and Joni, I know how much you loved my photo. I want to give it to you.” He knew I loved that photo and I took it knowing a lot of love was behind it.
Soon after we arrived at my house. I turned the lights down and opened the wine. The happiness I felt, I’d never had before. I felt wanted, and alluring, something that never existed before. I had so much anger in my life and hurtful moments from my family, this was my way of releasing my inner being. Allowing myself to focus.
I wanted to be with Charlie, I just didn’t want a one night stand, and I didn’t want to wake alone.
We had one candle burning and it was 3 am. He held out his hand and proposed, “Let’s walk up those stairs and not emerge until morning.” I didn’t think twice and took his hand.
“Don’t be scared Joni. I promise never to hurt you, now or ever. You’re beautiful.” I wasn’t scared about Charlie. His love was sweet, soft, caressing and gentle. We made love all night.
Charlie was still thrilled to be with me the next day. There were no notes left on my pillow. After breakfast, we walked hand in hand to the train. Arriving at school he said, “I know you told me you’re leaving for NC, but you’re not disappearing from me.”
I couldn’t look into his eyes. “Charlie, I’m already enrolled. I’m leaving in August. What we had was wonderful, but I’ll get too involved, and then what?”
Charlie responded, “Let’s take that one day at a time, okay? I’ll call you tonight.” With that he kissed me and ran off.
***This is just a glimpse into my short story. I would love some feedback. I didn’t post the whole thing, just a tease 😉***