I am “Woman with a Book.”
For much of my childhood, I was either called a “bookworm,” or “teacher’s pet,” or both. Were those monikers true? Depends on your definition of those terms. I honestly don’t want to be compared to a worm, and I’m certainly no one’s pet. But I did read. A lot. I often skipped the recess games of Dodgeball or Kickball so I could sit on the bench and escape into the world that Beverly Cleary had created. And I did study. A lot. And got really good grades, and tried to please my teachers.
That was then.
I am, by no means, an art connoisseur. I see a piece of art and sometimes something resonates with me. There is an attraction I cannot explain. I like it. I feel a connection to it. For me, great work leaves a lasting impression. Picasso’s Woman with a Book did that to me the first time I viewed it at the Norton Simon Museum.
This was a painting of me. The me that most people don’t know, or don’t take the time to find out about. Here was a woman, a sensual woman - hair down, breasts exposed- and she had been reading. Yet, something she read made her stop, and think, and wonder. But still, in the quiet of the room, seated on her comfortable reading chair, she was there in all her bright colors and sexuality.
Humans are so quick to judge. Quiet girl, with a book. You already have preconceived ideas about me. But you don’t know me. You don’t know that I once danced on a table in a crowded restaurant. You don’t know that I went parasailing. You don’t know that I took a belly-dancing class.
I am not just a woman with a book - end of story. I am Picasso’s Woman with a Book - beginning of a story.