1. The train is never on time
2. Scalding hot coffee
3. Where have all the young girls gone
It was never my intention to let it get this far, but that’s the way things have been going in my life lately. At the time we started the project, there were only the three of us involved, Jessie and me and her friend Kevin, who was only there to spend time with Jess, as far as I could tell.
Back then, I envisioned just a small affair, a little art show at the community area by the lake at Whitworth Park. The park lets people hold these things if the weather is decent and the people who show up behave with a certain amount of decorum. The only other provision is that no money may change hands. No problem there.
“It’s not going to be a sale,” I explained to Jess that Saturday morning over scalding hot coffee and lousy cinnamon rolls. (I should say right here that I’m better as an artist than as a cook; Jess’ expression when she crunched into the hard pastry told me she recognized that without being told).
“Well, what if people insist on buying some of the girl’s work?” she asked me. “It would be a real thrill for them and the park surely wouldn’t care as long as we didn’t advertise or anything.”
“No, Jess, no money at all. The guy I talked to at Parks and Recreation made that very clear. If we don’t stick to their rules we’ll be invited to leave and we’ll never get another chance to use that spot. I think the girls will understand that just fine. They just want a day to show off their pictures.”
“The girls” were 13 eight- and nine-year-olds from Herald Elementary School, some of them already showing promise in their artistic endeavors. I’d been teaching the class on Sunday afternoons for nearly a year, and for almost all of that time I’d been fielding exuberant queries about when they could display their work.
“Soon,” I told them, week after week, and for the most part they’d accepted that somewhat nebulous promise as I’d intended, a commitment to set things up as soon as it was convenient. Convenient, though, to a nine-year-old who’s just discovered she’s capable of painting a water lily that resembles a flower more than a dog, means next weekend or sooner, and since they’d been patient through pencil line drawings and charcoal sketches and paper-punch collages, I decided that it was time to make it happen. Watercolor water lilies were within the capability of all but one of the girls, so we arranged for the park location the first week of September.
Considering that the class was really my baby and that Jess showed up only once in a while when I thought I might need an extra pair of hands, she joined in the preparation for the show with more enthusiasm than I expected.
“I’ll make some signs,” she offered, and Kevin can help me.”