It was summer and she stood in a trance with her lips slightly parted. Not having air conditioning meant more than windows needed to be opened. Her elderly neighbor was taking his daily walk and stopped to approach as she stood in her art studio garage languishing over her impulse purchase of finger paints that took up an entire corner of the small space. The parts of her mind dancing in patterns of kaleidescope yin-yang could only find rest and balance in surrendering to the messiness of creativity, the shifting of will that arrives in soft and slow strokes that stop to dig and plant seeds, sway to pluck flowers, loving her, loving her not, until decidedly loving to shade delicately outside of her lines in tune to the sync of magenta laced meditative hums.
Her neighbor repeated himself, breaking her trance and forcing release of her lovers imagined hand after she requested he guide her brush over every inch of his paint by number all-you-can drink buffet. Slightly upset at the interruption she forced a smile to greet him. A rather chirpy neighbor he was, always too interested in what was happening in everyone’s garages and bedrooms. He was the only one to walk all the way up the hill to pass by her house everyday, the only house on the hill.
He started off discussing the early summer and lingering daylight, one of his less creative openings. As she nodded in agreement he then asked why she sold her work under a different name, why in her gallery events she didn’t tell attendees it was her work they were critiquing. She laughed at the illogical transition from summer to questioning her anonymity. She liked this neighbor, not because she knew him but because she knew they all believed her to be eccentric, uncomfortable to approach and confusing to understand. She appreciated that this neighbor had the courage to approach, even as she stood unabashedly holding a paintbrush in only her underwear, her nipples painted over like daisies.
“It’s a good question and I’m not sure how to give a proper answer…” she started. She put down her supplies and walked over to grab a joint as he watched. After lighting it she asked if he wanted a hit and he shook his head no.
“…Stan, I like to smoke weed every so often and there are other things I’m fond of also, things most folks balk at in public but privately envy. As you can see, I like to paint with just about nothing on, cause this kind of art and clothes hardly go hand in hand if you know what I mean…” she stopped at the burning in her throat to cough.
“…excuse me, sometimes I take it fast and deep and forget how much it burns…” she said while continuing to cough as he stared wide-eyed and speechless.
“…You know, I was like seventeen or so before I wanted to experiment with sex and though my mind was wild I tamed it and adhered to the limits of my boyfriend at the time. Some of the things I wanted to do I never told him because the things I didn’t think were a big deal scared him and I thought maybe I was a freak so shoved it way down, embarrassed at what I wanted to do to him and what I wanted him to do to me. Nothing like placing me in a meat hook and hanging me from a ceiling, mind you. Things I thought were normal but later found out were fettish-zone. Sorry Stan. I can tell by the look on your face this is probably not the answer you were expecting.” she said, stopping to let him respond.
Obviously affected he told her it was fine and to continue.
“You ever grab a burger at a drive-thru Stan?” she asked.
“Of course, once a week, In & Out” he answered with a smile.
“You ever study the cow sacrificed for that delight or how it came to be they ended up to be a burger at In & Out and not a shake at McDonalds?” she asked.
“Well no, course not” he answered with a frown.
“Well, I won’t be the one to enlighten you but I do recommend you look into if you’re ever inclined to understand my answer more deeply. Basically Stan folks get funny about the truth. In this world it’s easier to swallow what looks good and what feels good while pretending there are no parts inside of us that hurt, that struggle with darkness, dream of dying and sometimes dream of killing. No one wants to admit how they want to be spanked while they’re being fucked until their ass turns red or how intoxicating the cocktail of pleasure and pain really is. Even you probably wouldn’t admit to your wife that you walk up the hill to see my tits and not my artwork but I know and I don’t mind. But sometimes when you blend the artist with the artwork or give a face to a burger, you instinctively judge the magic or the sensation of pleasure upon your tastebuds and it somehow loses its intensity upon the senses and becomes something less than a creative piece, less animal style if you will. Now my art can’t really be likened to the mass produced burger but the point is I don’t want it be. Who the art originates from can sometimes override the flavors the public is willing to ingest. So I choose not to advertise as the artist anymore than the cow advertises as butter but in my human freedom everyone is free to eat me and decide for themselves how I taste.” she answered.
Stan stared at her, his mouth open in surprise.
“I hope I made sense because I gotta go now, Stan. There is a someone awaiting my hands and possibly my mouth to complete a paint-by-number masterpiece.” she finished.