Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bristled Regret


 I've sat here, staring at the keyboard for over thirty minutes.  I've typed two sentences.  Erased them both.  I am...stumped, feel incapable of communicating my thoughts.  The precipice of a chasm, completely unforeseen, that snuck up and sucker punched me on a splendid sunny afternoon.

First, I should say that most of you may think this ridiculous.  But to each soul is its own solar system, the gravitational force that keeps the balance....that which maintains.  As varied as the fish in the sea are the suns that ground each of us.  I went upstairs today to finish a painting.  It sold quickly but needed a signature, a touch or two, and a wire.  I remember the tumult of the night I'd previously worked on it; a thunderstorm, heartache and a sick child.  Interruption and hurry and comfort and....

I opened the window today.  Soft breezes scented with lilacs and the color green drifted into the room along with the distant sound of dogs and arguing birds.  I flipped the stereo on, chose,  pushed play.  Hazel settled with a bone to gnaw in the patch of sunlight that pooled on the floor while I piled my hair up and tied it with a scarf out of the way.  Humming, I filled the chipped teapot I use for water....and saw it.  My brush. 

The brush. 

*

She was shy, unsure.  Timidly she stacked the paints and brushes on the scuffed black counter, blushing as she bungled it and tubes tumbled to the floor.  He was older, totally "artistic," and oceans out of her league.  He smiled and held up a brush with a bright red handle.  "This is a really good one."  It disappeared into the bag much as she did out the door, cheeks aglow, a checked-off class list clutched in a sweaty palm. 

Twenty years ago.  I had a tool box I used as my art kit.  The little compartments and trays were perfect for charcoals and pastels, graphite, erasers and paint.  I remember the smell of the studios in college, blank paper and raw promise.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  How does one find one's place, establish a root within a tangle of talent, and grow?

The years plummeted by, countries and oceans and lives changed.  Do you know I painted the twenty-eight canvases for my first show in a windowless basement lit with three bare bulbs....and I was selling plasma to feed my toddler boys.  My fingers rubbed the red paint from the handle, and forests fell upon fabric.  I sold out.

Betrayal.  Divorce.  The red paint flaked and I composed skies and oceans and apocalyptic deserts.  New love....ferns and sunlight and rivers of liquid hope.  The equator leveled.

I didn't rinse it. 

Twenty years, not a brush lost.  And it was THE brush.  Now stiff...rigor mortis.  Bristles caked solid with forest pigment, the color of dark wet moss that drapes the ground, kneeling beneath kings and queens of bark.  I was interrupted.  I forgot.  While I have dozens more, liners and fans and tapers and.....there isn't a canvas with my name on it that hasn't felt the stroke of that brush.  The handle had warped to fit my fingers.

It's the only way I know to paint a sky.

Most mistakes can be absolved.  Apologies and grace and even reparation made.  The concrete can be replaced, right? 

Not always.

Do you know, as my awareness of the dependence I had upon this particular brush dawned, I have searched for years for another.  Twelve stores....four states.  I laughed it off, knowing--absurdly arrogant--that I never forget to religiously cleanse my tools, my fingers, the channels of my dreams into tangible reality.  I am absolute.  I am careful.

I am...terribly human.


I have purchased over forty brushes in the last three years trying for kin.  Tonight I toast the final painting of my crimson brush.  I actually sit here wondering if I can do the same with another.  Perhaps that is madness to you, but hundreds of dollars trying to find one with the same grip, the sweep, the swirl and glide and hush....

In a day which held darkness and joy of such variety for so many, I am stilled by hairs congealed with neglect.  Mine. 

Mine.



34 comments:

Robbie Grey said...

Wow. That was lovely and amazing and pulled at the heartstrings...well, there are indeed strings within a heart.

Sandra Tyler said...

well, for someone who had no idea what to write about, you wound up with a pretty vibrant detailed post!

Out on the prairie said...

You painted out those prose very eloquently.A very lovely read.

GrappaWehr said...

We never appreciate enough what we have till it is gone. People, a day, love, solitude, children, a tool, or a brush.

GrappaWehr said...

We never appreciate enough what we have till it is gone. People, a day, love, solitude, children, a tool, or a brush.

Mary said...

It's the little things in life like a favorite brush, that make each day a little easier to wake up to. I loved your post.

Shelly said...

Just as old wineskins strain and crack trying to hold new wine, perhaps that little brush is a metaphor for the new season of life you are entering.

So well written~

mermaid gallery said...

never perfect ...is life....but knowing the tools that get us to our destination is easy...how to use them is the hard part....you know how to use all of your tools now.....

BamaTrav said...

I know exactly how you feel, but mine is a guitar. They all look similar and do the same thing at their basic root function, but no two are the same, and the feel, above all else, is...magical.

terlee said...

Save that brush, frame it, hang it in your studio, remember the joy and ease it gave you over all the years, the thousands of strokes brushed into all your paintings.

You'll feel better knowing it's there, keeping you company, and eventually you'll smile at that well-used friend with no regret at all, happy in your shared history.

Mandy_Fish said...

Moving post. Speaks to my own personal struggles with impermanence. Reminds me of a disk full of writing that was damaged and all of the words contained within deleted forever. SIGH. What to do but to start over, tell new stories? But will they be as good? Will they be the same. No. They'll be different stories. And I'll move on.

Mel Heth said...

It impresses me so that you have an incredible command of words AND of paint and brushes. You are a very lucky and talented lady.

Maybe your brush will appear to you when you least expect it - when you've let go of the hope of finding it. Or maybe you'll find a better one someday.

Chantel said...

Robbie--yes, indeed. Thank you.

Sandra--lol, thanks.

Prairie--thank you, kind sir.

Grappa--amen. And amen again. :)

Mary--I know, only when you lose one of those little things, you realize it wasn't really little after all.

Shelly--a beautiful sentiment, I'm going to hold onto that one closely.

Mermaid Susan--so true, those tools matter greatly.

BamaTrav--I can only imagine the personal relationship one would have with a guitar...an extension of your voice, your heart. *sigh*

Terlee--love this idea, I do believe I will.

Mandy--oh, my heart aches at that thought. I read The Paris Wife last summer, the story of Hemingway's first wife. Something quite similar happens and it took me WEEKS to pick that book back up, so distraught I was at this idea. Yes...let us move on. What else is there to do?

Mel--I know you're right, perhaps it's waiting out there for me. *sigh* You and hope are close pals, it seems. I wish I was more like that.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Chantel, this is a stunning piece. I recognized the feeling of losing a tool, a pillar, a source of strength...even though I could not at first remember what similar loss I had experienced. Same with the remorse. Just wow.

Anthony said...

I can empathize...

Pigasus said...

What a wonderfully still refuge this post is. Thank you again. I can see you looking at a brush, I can see the chipped tea pot, and this strikes me as Only a Buddha and a Buddha.

Lyndsay Wells said...

Chantal, there was so much in this so I will just say, it was beautiful. It made me cry. It me think. It made me open my own window to let some green in. xoxo

The Loerzels said...

Wishing I wasn't so "terribly human". Love that description.

Chantel said...

Bliss--thank you so much, and that is exactly what it was, a pillar. It's been days and I haven't painted yet. :(

Anthony--thank you.

Pigasus--love that thought, thank you.

Lyndsay--green is the best remedy for dark days. :) Thank you! xo

Marie--we all have our days, don't we? *sigh* I wish I had more that qualified as "brilliantly human."

Somebody's Nana said...

I've rescued brushes with chemical brush cleaner. It would be worth a shot!

Paige + Shauna said...

dear chantel, to call you prose beautiful is an injustice. your
prose, the pieces of your life you
share hve an ethereal, supernatural spiritual quality that is yes totally human in all our serious and funny glory as well as the personal circumstances of your life that bloom as you write.
I can imagine searching far and wide for a particular "something" that holds our life a touchable
memory that has defined us, informed our life.

thank you.

Mary: said...

The kindness of a stranger and all the difference one can make. Our own kindness to others is important as well, although we might never see the difference. I'm glad you told the Juanita story. It's so true that most like her never have a chance or choice. Their reality is what we can't turn away from once we know it and feel what it really is all about.

Chantel, I've been quite overwhelmed with emotion over this and your last post. In fact, so much so that I felt there was nothing of great importance I could really say. It was as if in your poetic descriptions and raw reality I felt all of it with you, though of course I couldn't have. What a gift you have.
And so I read them both a second and a third time, and still there isn't anything greatly profound I can say, except please keep writing, please keep expressing in this way that is song, and dance and poetry and art itself.
Love from Spain where I hope you visit some day. Besos.

ND Mitchell said...

Another fantastic post Chantel. Glad I got round to reading this. Have been looking forward to reading for a few days and this didn't disappoint. Your favoutite brush gave you an extra opportunity to paint another beautiful picture in words.

Brian Miller said...

oh wow...i know the attachment though when you find just the right one...and the pain of letting it go in its time as well....great piece...

Shea Goff said...

I just realized how much I love and missed the internet. No pressure but never stop, Chantel.

The Empress said...

You've given words to something I can only envision in my head.

That brush, all that is said in that little space of the brush.

So many feelings, and you've brought us into it as if it were us finding the brush.

Amazing.

Casey said...

Wow what a beautiful post. For someone who didn't know what to write you did an amazingly beautiful job!

Thank you for stopping by my blog today, I appreciate it! I am now following you! I hope you have a wonderful week, take care

Chantel said...

Nana--it's soaking as we speak, as you said, worth a shot. Thank you!

Paige--thank you, sweet Paige, it feels more like I bleed into the keypad at times...

Mary--sometimes, the words from your fingers soothe me like no other. So strange to feel so close to someone terribly far away...but should I stumble into Spain some day, you will be on the dinner list. xo

David--I love that connection, I hadn't thought of it quite like that before, thank you!

Brian--yes, I'm having a devil of a time letting this go. *sigh*

Shea--my dear, I missed you back.

Empress--thank you. I know it seems mad to the world, but I'm quite terrified....haven't painted yet. Maybe this weekend...

Casey--thanks, I'm thrilled to meet you!

Matt Inwood said...

I loved reading this post, Chantel. Every single word and sentiment.

Chantel said...

Matt--Thank you, sincerely so.

Matt Inwood said...

Dear Chantel, I've been wandering and wondering around your blog over several posts and almost an hour or so on and off today, in between meetings, waiting for trains. Juanita's story particularly affecting. I could have deposited comments to each post I read, because there weren't any that didn't move or provoke something. There weren't any that weren't written so beautifully. There weren't any that didn't pierce with their utter honesty. I'll read and comment more soon.

Chantel said...

Matt--the rain is sliding down the windows and I fear this will be one of those mornings with no true dawn, just a lightening of the grey sky...but my heart is warm with your words. Thank you.

Candy said...

But to each soul is its own solar system, the gravitational force that keeps the balance....that which maintains.""""........... WOW.

Chantel said...

Candy--I find myself puzzled at times, at how other souls live. What is important, holy...or taken for granted. We orbit about one another, but rarely do we share a sun.