Letter to The Make a Fairly Modest Wish Foundation

Posted: 16 September, 2014 in Uncategorized
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My letter to The Make a Relatively Reasonable Wish Foundation

 

Dedicated to Delphi, who always advises me to make very reasonable wishes.

 

If there was an organization that granted very moderate wishes for painful but mostly survivable diseases (and there should be an organization like that) I’d want a museum for a day.

One full twenty-four hours. Locked inside the Art Institute of Chicago with no one else to bother me.

I was thinking about this last week at the Magritte exhibit. I’d seen some of his work before, but didn’t really know anything other than “This is not a Pipe” and the one with the train coming out of the wall.

The way they set up the exhibits reminds me of cattle runs. Everyone starts moving in a direction on each others heels at a trudge.

I understand they wanted to set it up chronologically so you can watch his work evolve, but I wanted it to be more open, easier to move back and forward from one to another without being scowled at for going the wrong direction.

People move through the gallery with an unspoken agreed-upon pace. Approach the painting, look for a minute until the person ahead of you moves on, step a little closer, look it up and down like checking out a woman at a bar, maybe read a little plaque next to it, then move on as the next couple (people seem to always go to museums in twos) steps forward.

The guards begin watching more closely if you take too long and their gaze begins to interfere with your enjoyment of the work so you leave. There’s only a bench in every three rooms or so, so stopping to take it all in, or in my case, to write, doesn’t really seem like appropriate action, but you do it every chance you get anyways and God forbid you get to the end and want to go back to the beginning.

—Sorry, says the guard —you’ve use this pass. I can’t let you in

—No I haven’t. I mean. I still am using it. I just want to move to a different part.
—Well, you can’t come in through here.

But now they won’t let me in through the back either because they can’t let people in that way and I didn’t realize I was at the end until I was in the gift shop and this isn’t fair. I’m not sneaking back in another day, I just want to see them out of order or multiple times. I didn’t know there was a one view per painting rule or a time limit.

At this point, I’m just carrying my large ledger style journal around with me, content to write standing, benches be damned and I gesticulate with the thing as I talk.

I leave. I can look at other stuff for now.
I want the people gone. I want twenty minutes with each painting at least. I want to be able to get very close to them. I promise not to actually touch. I want to sit on the floor of each room and write until I decide I’m done. I want to flip back and forth to compare times or just because I want to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. When I need air, – because so much beauty condensed in to one small place makes you want to kill yourself or destroy things – I want to take a break for tea and wine and toilet and return when I’m good and goddamn ready.

Most of all I don’t want to have to fight from letting all that magnificence and mystery reach my soul and causing me to collapse and weep just knowing that it exists.

Anyhoo, that’s what I’d ask for

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