This week in my Writing for Artists class, we read "Bluets" by Maggie Nelson. Taking inspiration from her work, we were asked to write our own list of propositions about something that fuels our own artistic practice.
This is my piece. Enjoy!!
Autobiography of an Artist
1] Imagine that you and I are having a conversation. You ask me questions like What do you want to be when you grow up? Or What’s more important to you, money or happiness? I don’t give you answers. I fiddle with the paper label at the end of the string on my green tea sachet. I might peer into the empty mug, trying to will it to refill with boiling water with my mind—Anything to avoid eye contact, to avoid your questions. I’ll answer, but not with the words you’re looking for. Instead, I’m going to tell you a secret—I’m in love with love.
2] I’ll explain to you how chasing after something as intangible as an emotion has set me on a divergent path with a unique set of landmarks. I’ll tell you about the things, places, and people I’ve fallen in love with on this journey.
3] With a new sparkle you’ll have never noticed in my eye before, I’ll look up from my empty mug full of wonder and excitement. I love talking about love. Why don’t we all? I’ll tell you about the stories I fell in love with first—My copy of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that my mom bought from my elementary school library because I loved it so much in it’s plastic jacket with a sticker marking it’s Dewey Decimal Classification: FIC CAR. I’ll tell you how I imagined seven impossible things before breakfast just like Alice. I fell in love with more stories: paintings, photographs, music, and films. I’ll tell you about my first yellow composition notebooks, how I feel when I watch “We Bought a Zoo,” and what it’s like to hear Fleetwood Mac perform “Landslide” live. I will confess that the only concept that ties these things together is love. Love unifies everything.
4] I’ll collect our mugs and make sure they’re full for this next part, they need more water and a drizzle of honey before I can continue. I’ll set the warm ceramic down upon the counter and tell you about the places and people I love. Places and people are more ephemeral than stories, paintings, music, and films—You can leave a place or a person, and a place or a person can leave you too.
5] I’ll tell you every detail about what it was like to teach art lessons at the farm for eight summers. I’ll tell you about the fairy houses we built by the creek, the alpacas named Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, the chocolate fudgesicles we’d give the campers once a week for a snack that would melt in the sun, the boat races, the paint splattered clothing reserved for work, the charcoal covered faces, the Friday pizza parties and art shows, and working alongside my best friends and role models. It was incredible. But, I’ll also tell you what it felt like for the owner to retire and for me to lose the place that was always my future, my safety net, and my sanctuary. It was heartbreaking. This summer feels different, it feels like a hot winter.
6] I’ll tell you about how my life has felt like a cycle where the people I love most leave me behind. I’ll tell you every detail about what it was like to withdraw from UC Santa Barbara after my freshman year. I’ll tell you about my roommate, Francesca, who has remained one of my closest friends. I’ll tell you about the road trips, the boy, the zebras in San Simeon, the $12 smoothies I’d drive to Malibu for, and the hundreds of pages I wrote on a tear stained MacBook keyboard. It was liberating. But, I’ll also tell you what it feels like to live at home when everyone I love is pursuing dreams that take them away from me. I feel abandoned.
7] I’ll tell you about everyone I’ve ever been in love with, I think. The story will start in 8th grade on a camping trip that I left earlier than everyone else in my grade. That story won’t end until I’m 18. I’ll tell you all about unrequited love. I know a lot about unrequited love. There will be a lot of little loves to ruminate over. Lots of could-have, would-have, should-have kind of loves. But, I know your time is valuable and your tea cup is almost empty. We can fast forward a bit. We can talk about now.
8] I’ll tell you all about my first requited love—I’ll tell you the things I have trouble admitting to myself.
9] You have to go soon, and you politely ask me again What do you want to be when you grow up? and What’s more important to you, money or happiness?
10] In love and happiness.
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