Matisse at the Museum

We got in the Plymouth, me and the kid up front and Matisse and Lyssa in back. The kid, whose name turned out to be Jaime, kept a running commentary of cool about pretty much anything anyone said. I was grateful for the ride, but after about the 10th Horse with No Name and the 100th “oh wow man that’s boss,” I pulled out the second joint he’d given me and lit it up. It slowed him down a little and he settled for bobbing his head in time to whatever someone was saying. Matisse turned down the joint and said nothing, staring out the back window.

When we needed gas, we all dug around our pockets. Lyssa, it turned out had money, so she laid out the 8 bucks. “Cheaper than a bus,” she said. The girls hit the ladies’ room and I wandered around the store. There was one of those wire racks of 8-track tapes and, looking around, I stuck Blonde on Blonde into my jacket and walked out.

“So where are you going?” Jaime asked, sliding back into the driver’s seat. He shifted into Drive and pulled out onto the highway.

“Buffalo,” I said at the same time Lyssa said, “Long Island.” Matisse said nothing. I asked her what she wanted to do and she shrugged. “Buffalo,” I said. “That’s like eight hours away,” said Lyssa. She looked at Matisse who lifted her eyebrows and shrugged. “Screw it. Why not?”

“Wow,” he said, “I’ve never been there.”

“It’s summer,” said Matisse, “It stopped snowing.”

“Cool.” He punched in the America tape, but I pulled Blonde on Blonde out of my pocket. “Here, dig this.”

“Oh man, Dylan. He is so deep man. He knows stuff, you know…” I let it pass. I could listen to this all the way to Buffalo.

It was about noon when we hit Williamstown and the Massachusetts border. Matisse perked up. “Williamstown. There’s an art museum there. I want to stop.” She turned to Lyssa, “Remember, Miss Borden talked about it in Art.”

“Man, it’s an eight hour drive already,” said Jaime. He looked at me. I was eager to get back, but a museum sounded good. “It’ll be cool,” I said. “Art, man.”

“Chicks,” he muttered, but he took us there. It was a museum full of Impressionists, mostly. Jaime was entranced. “It’s like acid, man. You know, all melty and stuff.” I left him to Lyssa. She seemed OK with him and though we hadn’t said anything to each other, it seemed like she was OK with me.

Bouguereau-Satry with NymphsMatisse in an art museum was a beautiful thing to watch. She kind of danced through the galleries, wandering the space. I started looking at painting after painting until I remembered wandering through the Met with her. “Look at that guy,” she’d said, “Going from painting to painting, like some accountant checking things off a list.” Matisse followed her own course, like some secret tour laid out by the museum staff.

She walked past painting after painting, giving each a quick glance as she passed. Then she’d spend 10 minutes at one, looking closely at the brush strokes, then at the colors, then, stepping back, at the lines. Then she’d look around the room and likely as not cross the room to look at another one. I stared at her face as much as the art. When she was looking at a painting, it was like her eyes threw a light on her cheeks. She had a wide private smile that no one was supposed to see except that when she turned and saw me watching, the smile got bigger and the light sparkled back into her eyes, and she turned to look at another painting.

“Man, that was heavy,” said Jaime when we were leaving. “That guy with the horns and all those chicks.”

“A satyr,” said Matisse. “He was a satyr, half goat.”

“Man, the way those chicks were looking at him. Woo.” Matisse said nothing, just curled into herself and stared out the window.

We made it to Buffalo in about 8 hours. By then, we knew all the words to Stuck Inside of Mobile and except for Jaime’s repeated playing of Rainy Day Women and singing “Everybody must get stoned,” it was a pretty mellow drive.

Lyssa went off to stay with some friends. Matisse moved into my room and Jaime crashed in my living room for a couple of days, smoothing the way with what seemed like an endless supply of pot. I was living with three friends of John’s from Rockland County, and it was summertime, and the living was definitely easy. I was cooking three or four nights a week. I got home around three and usually the only one up was Keith, who wasn’t working much this summer. We’d smoke a joint or two until I wound down and went to bed.

If Matisse was there when I got up, she and I would go out to the New Campus and find someplace in the woods to make love. There was no sex in my bedroom because she said it made her feel like a chick to know that everyone knew what she was doing.

She had changed through. She was a vegetarian now. She moved quietly and kept to herself. She was reading Krishmurti and Autobiography of a Yogi.   She started spending her days at the Knox and the park, reading and meditating under trees, seeing friends at night while I was at work.

She was friends with Keith because of Linda, but it was strained since he’d broken up with Linda.  When she wasn’t there, they all called her smile spooky. Raul liked to make fun of what she cooked, like a box of frozen spinach with an egg poaching on top. She walked in on him imitating her and left the next day. She ended up going home to Long Island.

When Jaime started getting on everyone’s nerves, he took off and stayed at John’s house. It turned out Jaime’s endless supply of pot was from a pound he was supposed to be selling for someone back in Vermont. John helped him move some ounces and, when it was gone, Jaime took off back to Vermont for another pound. He was in and out of town all summer and there was always a lot of dope around when he was.


Matisse at the Museum — 1 Comment

  1. “When she was looking at a painting, it was like her eyes threw a light on her cheeks.”

    Nice! Very nice!!