In 2011 I am keeping a sketch diary. Nightly, I reflect on the day and choose what's worthwhile or funny enough to immortalize with one sketch. I make a point not to limit myself to positives. If something awful happens, and I feel like including it, so be it. For someone who spent the last few months of 2010 in tears, I’m happy to report the first five weeks of drawings are shockingly pleasant. There are lots of pictures of food (pies, my new crock pot, steaming mugs of tea, a jar of homemade yogurt), a guitar, a turtle shaped loaf of bread (oh wait, that’s food again), a big fuzzy chair. Maybe this little project, which takes only a few minutes a day, is actually improving my outlook.
At least it was...
A couple things happened to downshift my mood.
One: I rediscovered this music video of John Mayer (my guitar idol and new boyfriend) playing Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. This song makes my soul hurt. It’s a great torture device.
Two: February covered up all the blades of grass that were starting to show beneath January’s leavings. There’s just no way I can keep pretending it’s mid-March when my car is stuck in the driveway.
So I’m back to battling my wanderlust. I made a playlist called Sea Songs, which consists completely of stylistically unrelated music about the ocean, the beach, or sea creatures. It didn’t help. I baked and gave away a couple of pies. That felt nice, but then I went back outside and February confronted me by immediately freezing the insides of my nostrils.
I don’t know what it is about the ocean that's pulling me. I haven’t spent much time there—a few weeks or months in total, spread out over years of vacations. Add a couple more days if you count transatlantic flights spent holding my breath in fear of crashing into my big soggy friend.
I remember meeting the ocean and knowing without a doubt it was the best thing I’d ever encountered. I was 11, staying at Clearwater Beach with my parents and my sister. I feel still when I think about watching the water, listening to it, getting in it, breathing the air around it. It’s so vast, so powerful, so eternal—I forget my ‘individual human being’ issues and become another grain of sand on the beach. No memories of the past, no fears about the future. Just a tiny, inconsequential piece of something much larger.
It's February in Iowa, but I have the leftovers of our brief meetings. I find them in the deep pockets of dark suitcases, or in a shoebox in the back of a closet. Or on my easel.