Jayden and I were invited to a party. Not just any party. A party at the renovated early 1900’s home in the Belmont section of town, a section of town somewhere squeezed from the West by Vanderbilt and from the East by Belmont universities. A silversmithing student of his had invited us. We had been to her home for dinner before, but it was just the two of us and she and her husband.
This was to be a party. Perhaps a hundred people had been invited. People associated with the universities. People associated with the primary alternative newspaper in town – The Nashville Scene. People in politics. Professional people. People with job titles who handed out business cards and spoke in that upwardly mobile dialect which made less-than-upwardly mobile people feel small and out of place.
When we arrived, the party was well underway. The home was renovated in the way that people pay for to see in magazines that show page after page of inside and out. Exquisite. Creative. Truly the home of someone very into the arts and very into home preservation.
I always head for the wine and cheese first. I’m a cheese addict. And I love rich, mellow red wines, not too sweet.
We walked around, trying to mingle. We had conversations with some painters, one sculptor and one actor. We tried to converse with others there, but when presented with that question of questions very early on after introductions — “What do you do?” — our answers were less than satisfying. We were jewelry artists who owned a bead store.
We had no currency there.
We had no political ties to network off of. No interesting gossip to trade. No similar career paths. We had nothing to say of value to the almost one hundred people frantically circulating room to room and hallway to hallway in this very beautiful but crowded house.
We were the decoration.
I stood in the corner of one room, watching the scene before me. It was a madhouse of people playing some kind of speed dating game where the prize was upward mobility for the sake of mobilizing upwardly. I realized I did have some currency. My name and avocation. All these people would be going back to their offices and social networks and political operations and news services, able to tell others that they met so-and-so the jewelry artist.
They knew they would never be questioned about what exactly I made. Or be asked to evaluate anything I constructed.
They would only be asked my name and avocation – Warren Feld, Jewelry Artist.