I turned and examined the face that looked at me from the mirror and gave an exasperated sigh. Sleepless nights made me look more pale than normal and gave my blue eyes the appearance that they were lit from within. Hopefully that would fade before my interview. Otherworldly wasn’t the look I was going for today.
There would be no more sleep in my immediate future. So I climbed into the marble-encased tub that sat in the middle of the room and soaked in a hot, lavender-infused bath. After which I wrapped a thick, vanilla-colored robe around my still damp skin, grabbed a bowl of sliced fruit from the fridge, made a strong espresso and padded barefoot toward my favorite room of the house for comfort.
It was a quiet turret nestled on the side of what used to be my grandfather’s New York City town home. My favorite place to calm and distract myself from memories and other things I couldn’t seem to escape. There was something about the curved, paneled walls, the antique windows and deep book shelves my Grandfather had put in that made me feel happily insulated from the outside world.
A bowl of pink grapefruit slices tucked dangerously in the crook of my arm, my attention was divided between my cell phone screen, the cup, and the citrus, in an effort to balance, and I tried not to stress about how many carbs I was about to ingest. Skinny was the only look that worked in this city. There was no tolerance for love handles among the clothes designers. Their creations were my passion, an art form of its own and my favorite diversion.
The pomegranate scent from last night’s candle still touched the air. I guess it hadn’t been that long since I’d blown it out. I lowered myself with a slow exhale onto the overstuffed couch that rested on the side wall as I gazed through the curved windows at the dark, wet streets illuminated by street lamps.
A fresh rain washed away the city’s sins of yesterday. The streets and the air above them felt clean and ready for new beginnings. Horns that blared incessantly throughout the day were on mute at this hour. The city that never slept was not quite awake at 4 o’clock in the morning.
But I was.
My mind functioned like an early morning emissary, sometimes bringing me insights and answers like a beacon through the darkness of my sleep; other times nagging me, reminding me of problems that still needed answers. Like I needed reminding.
I sipped my espresso to force the caffeine into my system. With enough of it flowing in my veins I would be able to at least distract myself from those problems for a while.
I glanced up at the black mantel clock that sat on the second shelf and watched the second hand drag what was left of the night into daylight. Today was the morning of my interview. An interview that had to go well, because today was the first day of my new life. The life I’d dreamed of all my life. Especially since my former one went all to hell.
Today was my new beginning, a day when I could put my painful history behind me and embrace the next big move, the one I’d dreamed of and prepared for. I’d learned my lesson. Keep my gifts tucked away. Don’t let people know what I see. They couldn’t handle it. Got it.
My eyes drifted across the copy of Marc Chagall’s Paris Through the Window which my Grandfather hung on the opposite wall. I’d left it where he hung it. In fact I hadn’t changed much of anything in the town home since he’d left. I wanted everything to be perfect for him in case he returned.
I thought about how Marc Chagall and my Grandfather had become friends in the 1960s, how he’d let the artist live here for a few years. He was so grateful to my Grandfather for the friendship and the housing that he gifted the original to my Grandfather who placed it in the Guggenheim. But not before he painted a near-identical copy.
Some kids dreamed of being a teacher or a fireman. I dreamed of working with art. Any kind of art: jewelry, paintings, drawings, sculpture – anything and everything. The way my father and Grandfather had as an art dealer and a restoration and authentication specialist respectively. Each spent endless hours of my childhood taking me through museums and galleries, introducing me to famous artists and their creations, educating me on the intricacies of fine art and antiques. I even majored in Art History in school in preparation for a passionate career in the field.
But when my father and my grandfather disappeared, both suddenly and under mysterious circumstances, leaving all of us broken hearted, my family began to think that my following our patriarchs into the art world might be a bad omen for our family. So, I backed away from my dream.
I eyed the velvet-lined, silver keepsake box that sat on a shelf under the Marc Chagall painting. Inside was a multi-strand necklace of pearls my grandfather brought back to me from one of his many European buying trips. I hadn’t been able to wear them since his disappearance. Too painful.
At least I was set financially, since my grandfather left me more than enough money in an inheritance. But I’ve always wanted to build a life for myself, to make my own way. So now, if I finally got to do what I loved, then maybe all I went through at Centaurian will somehow have opened a door for me.