Like the way your fingers tingle upon the touch of a new lover's flesh...so my hands feel. Taunt with excitement, slightly terrified and more than a shade awkward. It's been nearly five months...
If you don't know the story of the red paintbrush, read the beginning of this tale here.
I was devastated. Even now my heart pounds as I think about that day. My hands curl slightly...that feeling in your stomach like you've fallen a great distance. One hundred and forty-nine days since. One hundred forty-nine days without unscrewing a tube of paint. A summer packed full of children and trips to the pool and long evenings spent reading on the front porch. Every so often I would wander into my studio...and breathe. Liquid sunshine, the smell of charcoal and paint and wooden canvas frames would roll over me like warm ocean waves. I would run my fingers over the soft brushes that waited patiently in the empty teapot....and quietly leave.
Truly it's unlike me to be so...cowardly.
But there it is. I was afraid. Oh, so robust of me to use the past tense there--because I am still afraid. It's difficult to explain the uncertainty that has taken root in my heart. Even with hundreds of canvases behind me....they were all painted with that brush.
School commenced and I found myself preparing for our annual bash, the Soup. (should you care, you can read about it here.) This is quite the undertaking as we open the entire house to guests--every bedroom, bathrooms, the mancave in the basement as well as the third floor library and my studio. You know how when you have friends over there's always a room you shove crap in and shut the door? We can't do that when expecting so many--which forces me to de-clutter and clean every scrap and nano-meter we live in. A tad overwhelming, but hell--I'm done cleaning till after the holidays!
Sunday and Monday were party-recovery. (dear Lord above, I am not twenty anymore) Tuesday and Wednesday I cleaned and cooked. And this morning I sent the boys off to school, tidied up....and pulled on my gear. Clothes ancient, covered in paint and ink. Dabs of olive green and ocher, cobalt blue and crimson; the rip in the right leg gaps a bit, framing the skin of my knee in a strange motley way.
It took eleven brushes...they felt wrong in my hands. I kept switching them, one into the teapot after another, the splash of water a harsh reminder of my neglect.
Later I sat, this painting staring back. It's not large, only 10 x 12 or so, and this is just the first stage. The part where I force my mind back into my dreams and attempt to pull them out and make them tangible. Sometimes I love my work best at this stage, for here they appear much more like real dreams...blurry, the edges undefined. From here though, my waking mind clarifies, delineates and eventually finishes the work. If I like it, it lives. If I don't....my, how I do love the magic that is gesso.
I feel almost as if I'm dating again. The alieness of these brushes....it's rather like taking a stranger home for the first time. Incorporating the foreign into the most intimate aspect of my life.
Starting over. Something the human race is renowned for. Our ability to adapt and accept transitions, to forge on after overwhelming loss. Relationships, marriages, parenting...new jobs, new challenges. Life after abandonment, disease and graveyards. I suppose my fear is really founded in my own selfish aversion to change. My comfort in how it was. Pathetic, really.
Some roads we find ourselves upon are not our choice. But each leads someplace from where we are. Here's to knowing I don't want to stay where I am....so one foot in front of the other.