I tell my AP (Advanced Placement) kids things I don’t tell my other classes. We’re so much more like a family because of our common interest in art and we’ve known each other for at least two years instead of just a semester.
Somehow the subject of my husband came up and I confessed to them that we were divorcing. They got pretty serious and apologetic. “No, no,” I told them, “it’s okay. He and I are going to try and stay friends. I still love him but we can’t live together anymore.”
Nancy asked, “What do you mean?” I thought about it and gave her an example I thought she’d understand.
“About five years ago I was explaining to him how much I desired to teach painting. This was before I had a painting class and was still teaching photo. I told him how much happier I would be if I could teach the thing I loved most. He looked at me confused and said, ‘but you’re a photographer.’” Nancy shook her head but Janet didn’t flinch. She said, blank faced, “did you slap him? I woulda slapped him.”
“I know, right?” I replied.
“How could he not know that you are a painter?” asked Nancy.
It was so ironic that these kids who had only known me for a year or so understood that part of me more than the man I married. He was the same man whom I personally thanked in my Master’s degree artist statement. This was the man that was my muse long ago when we first began dating. I created paintings of him, with him, and then gave them to him. He is the man with whom I shared my home and had seen my paintings hang on our walls, seen my brushes and six foot tall easel, seen me make extra money by painting on the walls of peoples’ homes. How could he not have known that about me?
I was so disappointed in him, so sad, that I didn’t even get mad or, as Janet asked, slapped him. I just shook my head and said, “No, I’m a painter. Don’t you remember all the paintings in my Graduate show?”
“Well, yea but I just thought that was what you got your Master’s in, not what you did.”
I can’t explain that response. Really, I get sad as I type this. It felt like he never paid close enough attention to me, as an artist anyway. Maybe it's because he's not into art. It just felt important to me and they understood that.