||[Dec. 31st, 2009|11:25 am]
Ruling the bends.
95% Confidence Intervals (1/3)|
I'm half an hour early for my first date in almost a year and a half, time enough to walk around for a bit and calm my nerves.The lobby of the Cincinnati Art Museum is crowded and hot, and I make an immediate beeline for the coat check desk where an elegant black man in a smoking jacket takes a quick look behind him before waving me in.
"It's all right," he smiles impishly, "There's no one in there - go ahead and check 'em in yourself."
The coat check room looks like a very prodigal children's closet. There are hundreds of coats, scarves, gloves, and beanies all hung neatly on silver wire racks or folded and placed in cubbyholes above the hangers. A pair of windows faces south-east, overlooking Eden Park and its now empty fountain, and the afternoon light creates a warm glow throughout the entire room, making it seem much larger. I grab an empty hanger and unload my heavy coat onto the slim steel wire, then wrap my scarf around the stem and shove my gloves into an empty pocket.
I head back into the lobby and thread my way through the crowd, walking a straight path past the glass cases filled with ancient Egyptian statuettes and thorugh an interesting-looking exhibit on African masks, all the way to a second lobby where an impressive double-set of marble steps spiral up towards the second floor. It's a huge room, lined with pillars at intervals and tiled with black and tan eight-pointed stars set in a bronze lattice. Here the crowd's thinned out significantly - a few people are reading at tables in the corners of the room and an elderly woman chases a pudgy, giggling blonde child across the expansive floor.
When I'm nervous, straight lines and easily identifiable geometric shapes calm me down. One of my friends - a graduate student in clinical psychology - told me that this is not uncommon, and that it's a small way of seeking order from visual chaos. I walk slowlyr, my eyes focused a few feet in front of me, tracing the lines in the floor and trying to pretend that the room is empty, silent, an oasis of calm that will pin me to the tiled floor under its shady embrace and leech the anxiety from me like the moisture form a snail that has been dusted with salt by a malicious child. When I reach the opposite side of the room my insides are still churning, so I head upstairs to the rotating galleries. I pace through the wood-paneled floors, not focusing on anything in particular, hoping that
My phone buzzes.
"Hey." I whisper into the receiver, "Are you in the museum?"
"Yeah," she replies, "I just got here - I'm in the lobby, under a hanging blue sculpture that looks like a ball of worms."
"All right, I'll be right down. I won't take more than a couple of minutes. See you in a few."
Maybe it's my own anxiety, but I swear I can hear a nervous staccato in her voice - and in a complete "duh" moment I realize that we're both probably equally eager to create a good first impression. This does more for me than any of my previous attempts to relax, and as I descend the marble steps in the column room a slow change comes over my frenetic motions. Somewhere in the middle of my walk back to the lobby everything slows down. Like in a John-Woo action sequence, except with Oscar Peterson in the background. Consciously but unconsciously my back straightens, my pace slows - I am suddenly acutely aware of the rolling heel-to-toe motion of my boat shoes against the museum floor - my chin tilts slightly upward and a warm tingling feeling spreads itself across the back of my skull and works its way forward to my temples.
And gradually, I start to have fun.