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I have one original oil painting in my house, a tiny two by two-and-a-half inch unframed little thing that sits on the kitchen windowsill so I can look at it often. It is old, from my high school days, and therefore reminds me of a life I used to live that is not much like the one I have today. It’s from a time when I clung to my high school drop-out boyfriend desperately, doing drugs and otherwise anesthetizing myself while I waited to grow up and out of my house. His father, who was a painter, gave it to me. The dad often stepped into the kitchen at their home to ask if we all liked whatever work he was holding up. After about five years it finally occurred to me to ask for a painting for myself. It is of a can of dry mustard and it is fitting since I love to cook, and because our relationship went sour.

I love this tiny oil painting though because this boy, my first serious boyfriend, made a big impression on me. He taught me things I have carried in my life forever such as a need on my part to be treated with respect. That’s why I think dating is so great. It is full of pain and misery. To me it is not about searching for a suitable mate, but instead it is about finding out things about yourself you just couldn’t learn otherwise.