I don't mind being alone when I know that life is not total solitude.
I came home last night, took a nap, made curry for dinner from the leftover staff party shrimp that I cam home with, worked through Sunday's music, and worked on art projects til midnight. I've got a stack of CDs next to the boombox, the red candles from the corner store burning, I'm comfortable in an old tank top from my first year of college and paint-stained jeans, mixing paints, laying down layers of gel, rearranging.
I'm in the same mode I've been in since high school, when everyone else was out drinking or doing whatever People My Age do, I was creating.
I've never felt confident in the art that I do until the last year or so. When I was in my teens, I had no car and couldn't afford art supplies so I cut up old National Geographics and collaged with them. Some of them looked amazing and some of them didn't, but it helped me learn about color and aesthetics. My first year away from home in the middle of nowhere was spent mixing oil paints and listening to the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, walking back to the dorm at night with smears of paint on my face, in an oversized black hoodie looking like I'd gone crazy. I had to throw out all my clothes that year when I moved home because the oil paint destroyed them all.
And then in Kent, I gave up on being an art student, wrote papers about Jane Austen and Chaucer, and spent my weekends playing old U2 and Pixies records and 'London Calling" countless times, covering the walls in pieces painted in gouache on brown paper, doodled with Sharpie, scrawled poetry and longings. It was here when I discovered that people actually liked what I made, and I made birthday gifts on illustration board, rendering abstract designs and fragments of my favorite poems with Prismacolor pencils, magic markers, and collage.
Now all these years of consistent practice to free myself of mediocrity are behind me and I wish there were more hours late at night when I didn't need to sleep and I could transpose the Cafe Caribe-induced visions in my head onto canvas and paper, use the knowledge I've gained in photography and painting to finally actualize.
I finally feel okay with being 'an artist' in the sense that I see more and more that I have the ability to create what I want to make, and because I continue to seek out and learn how to hone my craft and soak in all the goodness I can.
I've got my books and poetry to protect me, and because that wasn't enough to hide behind, I've got my art and my music. I can't sing unless I have a guitar in my hands. The guitar was my first liberation into finding a niche in the complicated world of social interaction, and it's also a crutch and a shield for those times when I talk with my hands too much.
The painting fills up my time, and lets all the colors and thoughts in my imagination out into something that I can touch, that brings pleasure to my eyes. I got over the fear of messing up when I realized that gesso spraypaint works wonders to cover up the bad spots. The paint is the place of loneliness, while photography is the window to the world, an interaction and a fresh encounter.
But it's a scary place to be in at the same time, because this is always where I'm been at and what others have defined me by. It's easy to hide behind the creative process to make the nights alone hurt less, to say "I don't need anyone," to pretend that it doesn't bother me when the phone doesn't ring because I'm already doing something, to wonder if things will ever change, and if I even want them to.
It's easy to be "that artsy girl" or "that girl who knows a lot," but it's hard for others to get beyond that and see that what we do so often is only a part of and not the complete picture of who we are.