This afternoon I received a text message that got the wheels in my head turning. “I have a painting related question: I want to start painting, I have no clue where to begin! Can you help/guide me?”
My first question: “What medium do you want to paint with?”
My second question: “What kind of stuff do you want to paint?”
There’s a reason I asked those questions in that order. I don’t care why anyone wants to paint or, really, do any art. Art has its own value. But from a practical standpoint, you need to know where you’re starting.
The first time I had a panic attack I didn’t recognize what I was experiencing.
It was an odd time to have a panic attack. I was out on the Blue Ridge Parkway late at night with my best friend, who was driving. We were listening to Natalie Merchant’s Ophelia album, which was one of a handful of CDs we could agree we both loved for those long late-night drives. I had just moved back to Asheville to resume school after a yearlong absence. Classes hadn’t started yet. There was no other traffic, and both starry sky and winding road were clear, but suddenly my entire body was seized with an all-consuming need to go home. My heart was pounding, my face was burning. I told my best friend I wasn’t feeling well. We went home. Once I was back in my dorm room, I felt a sense of relief. I was safe.
It happened again a few days later. I was at another friend’s apartment, drinking tea and talking on a cozy evening just after classes had started. I had had a good day. There was no obvious reason why I would be anxious. But there I was, watching the clock and trying to figure out how long I had to stay before I could escape back to my dorm room where I felt safe. This was no ordinary Attack Of The Introvert. This was something darker.
It happened a lot.
“And this is our art director, Goose,” My boss said, introducing me to the parents who were visiting our camp (or visiting members from the council that owned our camp, or any number of other people).
I smiled. “It’s nice to meet y’all.”
The mother tilted her head. “You…don’t sound like you’re from around here.”
“No, ma’am. I’m from North Carolina.”
My boss grinned, a hint of amusement. She’d once told me she loved the looks on people’s faces when she introduced me to them; I was not unlike a lost tropical bird to many people, even in Pennsylvania. “And she goes to school in Michigan.”
“Oh, are you studying art?” the father asked.
“No, sir. Biology. Microbiology, specifically.”
Both parents stopped and stared at me. You could see the wheels turning, trying to understand how all the pieces of me that they had just been handed fit together, how any of it made sense. My boss just beamed. I smiled too. I never really got tired of the confusion either. I earned that quiet little mischief.