Perhaps it was to be expected that nothing would be easy for a woman who had endured so much. After all, Vanessa Valencia's Strange Beautiful Lady II is a woman accustomed to facing - and overcoming - challenges. By her nature, she's a survivor, determined to rise above her circumstances and circumvent all obstacles. Thus the curious adventure she embarked upon when arriving in Paris might have been predicted.
After clearing customs at Aeroport Charles de Gaulle, the Strange Beautiful Lady should have been chaffeured toute de suite to her new home. Instead, after being released from the restricting confines of "the Foreign Delivery Unit," she spent a week touring various French venues, her whereabouts a mystery.
Meanwhile the artist and the Lady's new hostess fretted and worried, commiserating via multiple emails and wringing their hands over the leaden effects of Mercury in retrograde. So concerned was she about the Lady's whereabouts, the artist fell asleep dreaming about painting another Strange Beautiful Lady. But of course, the real one, undaunted, was exploring a new country. She practiced her French while learning about La Poste's sudden aversion to speed, maps and door entry codes.
On Saturday morning, her anxious hostess received a glimmer of hope. La Poste telephoned to say la colis had been found, but the delivery person couldn't find the recipient's name on the door panel. Obviously the name couldn't be seen as the delivery person had not asked the code to enter the building, behind which doors the panel in question awaited. La Poste's representative laughed, agreeing the delivery person hadn't tried very hard to deliver the package. But she promised la colis would be delivered Monday morning.
Jubiliant that it appeared the Strange Beautiful Lady soon would reach her destination, the hostess hung up the phone. Then she remembered another, smaller package was en route to her residence. Perhaps la colis was that package and not the Strange Beautiful Lady? Another two days and nights of worry commenced.
But the Strange Beautiful Lady was unphased by the latest twist in this long saga. She spent the weekend languishing in a crowded room at La Poste, conversing with other foreign travelers awaiting transport.
Late Monday morning, at last the Strange Beautiful Lady arrived at her new home. Swathed in glamourous pink and black polka-dot tissue paper, she took a long look at her surroundings. She noticed her hostess's collection of bejeweled and sparkly Madonna crowns. Surely, if one had to leave behind the stark beauty of the Arizona desert, at least an eccentric fashion sense would be appreciated here?
Perhaps she could try on that faux sapphire-encrusted crown, a colour that matched her eyes? Or maybe the simple elegance of the laurel wreath entwined with gold leaves would best suit her style? And so the Strange Beautiful Lady began settling into life in Paris.
Strange Beautiful Lady II, acrylic on canvas painting by Vanessa Valencia; photo courtesy of Vanessa Valencia.