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The Perils of Dating an Artist

timothy

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January 4, 2009

I dated an artist, not so long ago. And by artist, I mean progeny to a legendary professor at a top University of Fine Arts in the Philippines, borne from a long line of artists, surrounded by a myriad of friends, all of which are artists. In short, the stereotypical artist.

When we first met, our discussion stumbled upon what we believed to be greatest art works of all time. We went from Dali’s painting of “The Persistence of Memory”, Matisse’ “Flowers of St. Henri”, Cezanne’s painting of “Still Life” to American Pop-Culture portrait paintings. For a minute the artist’s name escaped both our memory banks. At that time we found it comical to forget, amongst others, the central figure of Pop-culture, household name to our generation. And just like in the movies, as if on-queue we blurted out his name in chorus, “Andy Warhol”.  That moment, sparks flew and the rest was history.

Although I have a strong love for the arts, I wouldn’t refer to myself as one. A geek, perhaps. Then a writer. But definitely, more of a city-dweller than an artist.

Many artists, burned by competitive relationships, cope by hooking up with non-artists, hoping for lower-drama relationships. The non-artists often act as dutiful spouse, fan-club president, and personal psychiatrist all rolled into one. They have to suffer through gig after gig, erratic and fleeting lifestyle, all the while wondering whether someday they’ll leave. Overall, the non-artists like me, say the trade-off is worth it. But only when both parties agree to let the artist get all the attention.

Dating an artist is like Oz, because the rules of the known universe don’t apply. There are surreal moments that would bring Dali himself back to life.

Simple holidays for instance, Valentine’s Day can be a real stretch of patience. Most artists boycott Valentine’s Day and don’t believe in giving flowers during this season. A common excuse is that it’s an evil scheme of commercialization. But let me paint you a picture of this in a non-artist woman’s perspective. Your special lady is at work, a bouquet of roses is suddenly delivered to her department. A delivery man walks towards her. Her heart raises but the roses pass her work area unto her workmates desk. She’s disappointed but shrugs it off because she knows her partner is not one for Valentines. She’s a hopeless romantic but convinces herself that it’s just a silly tradition. A few minutes after a second bouquet of flowers are brought in. She tries to ignore it, but as it approaches her desk her face begins to inch a giddy smile. Just as she raises her head however, she realizes it has moved past her, once again, to another desk across hers. This is how her day goes, till the bundy strikes 6pm, till the clock strikes 12 midnight, until the day is finally over. She’s ok. She’s wasn’t really expecting. She’s in denial. She’s unscathed or is she really?

When we go out, I am the more vivacious one, but I always was, and he doesn’t mind. Two people competing for the spotlight would be hard, but when it’s just one it works. The only time I complain about his being self-centered is when I’m going through something difficult on my own. As much as I enjoyed his company, his tendency to throw tantrums in public made him a less-than-ideal partner. I was living with the hope of what could be, rather than paying attention to the reality of what was. He needed to have someone so wowed by him that anything he could provide above that would be icing.

And so to the artists, say you are not one for romance and roses, perhaps once in a while you can shelve your strong opinions and bid away from “being different”. This woman is your special lady. Say she never asked for flowers, but why deny her the simple joy of receiving them? And if you really cannot, why not paint her a picture?

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