The life of an inanimate object.
|I've never been to City of Light. Paris, I mean.
I wasn't painted on a bright spring day underneath a cherry blossom in full bloom. I wasn't touched with gentle, deliberate strokes of a seasoned street artist. I didn't come out of one of those green wooden boxes along the Seine, or from under the canopy of shady oaks atop Montmartre. Never seen lovers wandering past, arms about each other in that city of love. I've never felt the cool breeze skipping off the river and onto my canvas, never heard tourists from all over the world marvel at my elegant simplicity and grace.
Au contraire, I was screened onto synthetic material, stretched over a cardboard frame and slapped onto a dusty, rusty conveyor belt somewhere in Hong Kong. (Or was it Beijing?) I've felt the rough, undernourished hands of factory workers, going as fast as they possibly could to make that extra few cents an hour. I am--at best--a picture someone took, maybe even an image created by a computer; it's possible no one had to be in Paris at all in order to make me a reality.
I've seen the bowels of dank, stale delivery trucks and boxes. I've never known fresh air or sunlight; I remember the harsh, fluorescence of that storage room behind the mega-ultron chain store that stocked me by the hundreds. I've been pushed aside, dropped, stacked, rubbed all over by the greasy, little hands of children in carts as their parents searched the discounted, plastic knick-knacks for something that would make them look a little more cultured.
But life has improved some, since leaving there. I caught the eye of a happy-looking young woman one day. Gingerly, she picked me up by my sides in her warm, soft hands. She smiled at me; she told her friend that I was perfect. Me, perfect! She took me to the register, where I was one last conveyor belt away from my first trip outdoors. The sun felt good; it warmed me as I lay in her backseat. She sang the whole way home: very proud of herself, very excited for something.
Before I knew it, I was hung on a wall, facing a little futon in a cute little apartment. I could see out the window from my place there: a River! I was finally home! Another girl was looking at me then, as if she recognized me. A smile spread across her face and she turned to catch my buyer in her arms. She thanked her, looked back at me, and then gave her the sweetest kiss that there's ever been. Who needs a whole city of romance? An apartment bursting with it is just enough for a second-rate work like me.