There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
Petit chien extraterrestre is painted on a piece of scrap paper and dated March 2020. The inspiration for this piece, however, comes from wax candle splatters I had noticed on the table of the balcony of my Québec City apartment the summer before. The 14th of August, to be exact.
It was the morning after my annual souper de filles which had lingered late into the night. I had gone out onto the balcony to have my coffee when I noticed the little alien and his dog in the wax splatters. As I mentioned in my previous post, Art is a fortune teller (5 February), I’d been seeing these kinds of things my whole life without giving them much thought. This alien and his dog, however, were different. “Come play with us,” they seemed to be saying, “Come be our friend!”
Without finishing my coffee, because somehow it seemed urgent, I went back inside to retrieve my phone in order to snap a picture of the alien and his dog to sketch later. But these were wax splatterings on a glass tabletop, so nothing was visible in the photo. If I wanted to capture the alien and his dog, I was going to have to draw them that very moment.
I remember thinking that it would take too long, and that I had other more important things to do. I wanted to work out before the temperatures rose too high, for example, and I still needed to do all the dishes lingering in the sink from the night before. I also needed to call my mom, and I had a few emails to write. But something intervened. “Enough of your crap,” it said. “In a couple hours, the sun will have climbed to its peak in the sky. It will melt the wax. The alien and his dog will be no more. You must do this. And you must do it now. Quit fooling around.” The voice was firm. The voice was not going to tolerate any of my excuses.
Less than a month later, my husband would sit me down and firebomb the life we had built together. I would find myself living in a rented room of a brownstone on Bergen and Fifth, alone and scared, and forced to face the woman I had become. I would discover that I didn’t like her. Loathed her, in fact. Feared her, even. She was not kind. She was judgmental and unforgiving. She was negative, impatient and angry. If I was going to survive this catastrophic moment of my life, if I was going to survive this woman and her hateful, relentless criticisms, I was going to need a friend. A true one. The kind who knew every hair on my head, who had loved me unconditionally since before I was born. Someone I’d buried so deep inside the recesses of my heart as to be unrecognizable to me now: the Alien.
This Alien was no dummy, though. My hardened little heart was about to be broken wide open and made vulnerable and finally maleable to his hands, but it’s not the average recovering Catholic who goes running back to God without a fight. Certainly not the over-educated, hard-headed, Brooklyn-dwelling variety like me. He was going to have to send someone ahead of him. Someone I wouldn’t be able to resist: the little dog.