"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Portrait of Jenny

There are some things I don't talk about on this blog. Until now, this was one of them.

Jenny works with another woman named Jenny. One could've ended up being Jen or Jennifer, but the one I know ended up being Skinny Jenny. "Skinny" is probably the first word that comes to mind when one first sees her, but it's not accurate; skinny suggests that there's something missing, lacking, but what she is is elongated. She reminds me of paintings by Modigliani or a gangly teenager who's just had a growth spurt. At times she appears to be all arms and legs.
She always wears skirts, as she can't find pants that fit and she matches them with blouses that, to come to her wrists, are several sizes too large, making her look like someone who's just lost a lot of weight or like an anorectic trying to hide what she looks like. Unlike most women I know, she only owns a few pairs of shoes, width AAA, all bought online. She has the longest fingers I've ever seen; she spans 9 keys on her piano easily, 10 with difficulty and I remember thinking arachnodactyly ("spider fingers") when I first saw her.
She's at her piano as much as possible. She's a composer, trained at Juilliard - had a class with John Cage once. Because of her, I had to learn modern classical music quickly: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Arvo Part, Terry Riley, Tan Dun... but I've never gotten the hang of it. There's usually classical music playing in the background when we're together and I've stopped trying to guess the composer as she'd get exasperated that I couldn't tell Mendelssohn from Mahler and never seemed to get any better at it. I liked that there was this gaping hole in my knowledge, just like I like playing chess because I'm so pathetic at it.

She rarely came to my house, partly because there's no space for a piano (it is her first love and I was content to be second) but also because she wouldn't smoke indoors, though I'd let her, saying, perhaps truthfully, that I'd end up complaining about it. My house is most definitely that of an aging bachelor and I was rather joyfully awaiting that transformation of "a woman's touch" which requires the obliteration of anything that's mine and half-hearted complaints that all my money was going to window treatments and pillow shams. There's a dresser in my bedroom that I emptied for her, but it remains empty and the only sign that a woman's ever been there is a box of cottonballs and a bottle of nail polish remover in the bathroom.

There are little quirks of hers that took a long time for me to appreciate. One can tell what kind of mood she's in by the size of her earrings (always mismatched and far too many piercings). She always pauses before a meal, staring at her food and I thought for a while that she was counting calories, but she was silently saying grace, as I don't - and I'm supposedly the religious one.

She visits her grandmother in the nursing home every week and I went with her a few times. Jenny sings and they dance together and have the same conversation every time and it's hard for me to watch as it reminds me of my own mother's dementia and I can't sing or dance - and to Jenny that's like saying I don't know how to breathe. Still, it was worth it to see the expression on her face - Jenny's face - as it made her so very happy in a way I couldn't comprehend.

I mention Jenny's face and I try to conjure an image of it in my mind, but I can only come up with one feature at a time. Trying to describe her will make her sound ugly, because she has such strong features and they shouldn't work together, but somehow they do. She looks a little like the actress Kristin Scott Thomas,  and one should keep that in mind, as I make her sound like a gargoyle.
Photos added after posting

She recently cut her hair and dyed it, but every photo shows long brown hair with a little gray which could be taken for highlights at a distance; straight and flat (let's face it, limp and dull) and starting from a widow's peak on an extremely high forehead. Her ears, which I mentioned, are large and stick out. Her nose is very long and straight, though not sharp or pointed, rather aristocratic, and suits her handsomely, somewhat like Virginia Woolf. Her eyes are a light greyish blue, even at a distance, but if she wears sunglasses, you'd guess they'd be brown and there are always dark circles just at the edge of her nose. Her lips are thin and her mouth is very wide; when she smiles, which she does much more freely than I do, she displays large, perfectly shaped teeth and she displays all of them -one can actually see her wisdom teeth.

Her voice is low and soft and has the rounded tones of a trained singer. Her motions are graceful and lithe, she seems to float or glide rather than walk. She hugs or kisses hello, makes everyone feel the center of attention, makes everyone miss her before she's even departed.

She just left. She's not coming back.


ShutUpandRun said...

I just got to know Jenny and now she's gone. What a beautiful description you gave of her.

Londell said...

Not sure if it was the intent, but this is really sad...

RBR said...

To be loved by a writer and to have such beautiful things written about me.

I am truly saddened for your loss. As always if you need anything.

Take care of you

*smooches* (stop rolling your eyes at me, I am a smooches kind of girl)

PiccolaPineCone said...

Wow. That was staggeringly well written. You made me truly sad I never met her. I hope for your sake it is not truly truly over.

Beth said...

Your description is lovely and I'm sorry that she left.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

This was extremely affecting, Steve.

Despite what you say, it sounds as though you were loved. That doesn't make losing Jenny any easier, I know.

But maybe it tells you something about yourself?

Take care, my friend!

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with her, and was pleased she was yours - but I was smote by the final sentence.

joyRuN said...

I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to be loved like Jenny is loved by you.

Jean said...

Steve, your words are beautiful. All my best to you. Please take care.

SteveQ said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I stepped away from the computer for a bit and found a lot of people asking if I'm okay. Yeah, I'm okay (though I have been drunk for a while now...)

Xenia said...

I'm so sorry, Steve. Hugs to you. Take care.