Photo by Melanie A. Curti
Story by F.C. Shultz
“Follow me,” the man in the car next to me said. I didn't have time to question his insanity before the light turned green and the man drove away. The car behind me honked. I moved my foot to the gas.
I'm not in the habit of following strangers, but I do love a good adventure.
Well, I like the beginning of adventures. I even like the pre-beginning of adventures where planning and dreaming takes place; before any adventure even begins. I live for that. Get lost in it. Mom even says I'm careless about it.
I guess that’s how I found my way to Latvia.
This two-car motorcade made its way through brilliant architecture as we drove toward the edge of the city. Art Nouveau at its finest. I think that’s how you say it. I’m not sure. I just looked it up on the internet. I didn’t study architecture back in school. I wouldn’t have been able to get this job at the Rothko Art Center if I chose to go the architecture path.
Painting is where my heart is anchored.
My print of No. 6 is still hanging above my bed back in the states. I couldn’t risk bringing it over here. It’s too beautiful. Too many of my memories are tied to it. I’m too immersed in it. There’s no reason to bring a print anyway, since I’ll get to see the real ones up close when I start working at the Center.
If I start working at the Center.
I’m not ready. I just got here. I bet mom hasn’t even shipped all my clothes to me yet. And here I am being lead down a country road outside the city. Maybe he’s taking me to find the fern flower. I’ve heard the rumors. I could use some magic.
The sun has been trying to break through the overcast all morning. The road is still slick. I don’t want to forget this moment, or this mysterious leader, so I take out my phone and snap a picture before he disappears around a curve.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to be late for work on my first day, but I’m at peace about it. Maybe it’s the adolescence still in me. This adventure, this mysterious storm-cloud grey car leading me, is the most thrilling thing I’ve felt in awhile.
Could this be the start of my next adventure?
What place to I have working at the Rothko Art Center anyway? I’m not prepared for this. I’m not qualified for this. I should have stayed home. I should have never left the country. Momma said I should have stayed and been a school teacher. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I know that now.
Maybe it’s not too late.
The tail-lights on the car ahead of me slow burn into a deep red. There’s a split in the road. The sign in the middle reads:
Left: Last Exit, Latvia International Airport
Right: Last Exit, Mark Rothko Art Center
My procession leader stalls at the intersection as I approach close behind. There are no indications of where we will go next. No turn signal. Nothing.
I wait there, tapping my fingers on the wheel, begging for the next move.
“Let’s go,” I yell. It sounds more like a shout of desperation than disapproval. He pulls out into the road and takes a right. I’m not as ready for this adventure as I thought.
I turned left.