Dee's Journal



Entry #9: Like pieces of rainbow.


Thursday night. Dinner was over and I finished my homework. I felt kinda strange... not sad, but definitely not happy. I had spent a little part of every night this week working on the offrenda for Grandma Webster. Right now there was the photograph of me and her, a square from a knitted Afghan she was working on, a little vase that once belonged to her mother. I filled it with water and put in two yellow daisies from our bushes. And there's the candle. It all looked very nice, but something was missing. I wish I knew what it was.

I lay down on my stomach and stretched out my arms and legs as far as I could. My toes touched the two metal door handles of the bottom drawer of my dresser. I tucked my toes underneath the handles and pulling up with my feet, opened the drawer. I don't use this drawer much anymore. It's filled with stuff I saved from when I was little. You know, a regular "junk" drawer (everyone's got one). Old playing cards, cheap plastic toys that people give out as party favors. A whistle. An unfinished (barely started) purple and orange lanyard, a yellow ping pong ball. A rusty key. A couple of seashells. It was kinda fun to look at these ancient "treasures" from my childhood, but none of them were things I wanted to use in Grandma's shrine. Then I saw the blue corner of a box of water color paints that Grandma Webster gave me for Christmas when I was seven. And the pad of paper and the instruction book that came with the set. This was what I was looking for! I was going to paint a picture for the offrenda!

When I was little I loved to paint. There was something so wonderful about looking at the colors in the box, all bright and clean. Even though I'm not the neatest person in the world, I always made sure that my water colors never got their colors mixed up. My little brother has had sets like this, and after one time, just one time of using them, all eight little ovals of color look like they're just the same color. And you know what that color is? The color of mud! Of course, he's never interested in using them again. But for me, the thing I always liked best was opening that box and seeing that beautiful rainbow of colors all clean and bright, and waiting for me to dip in my wet brush and put some of those rainbow colors onto some boring old white piece of paper. And when I did that, I could make a world. Yes, That's the way I thought of it. In the same way that when you listen to a story, you can close your eyes and make a world from the words, I used to be able to do that with colors... paints, crayons, even with a plain old stubby pencil.

So what happened? When did I shut that paint box for the last time and decide I was never going to paint again? When did I stop doing something that had been so much fun for me and why?

I'm not sure when this happened. I remember loving the feeling of painting "designs" (which is a kid's way of saying she doesn't have any idea what she's making). Just watching the paint and the water mix and flow together over the paper and go exactly where it wanted to go.

Then I got this book about a girl living in Arizona who had a wild pony she raised from birth. I loved the story and even though there were no pictures in the book, I knew exactly what the girl and the horse looked like. She was black, like me, and the horse was white with brown patches. They call them Pinto ponies. It was the first time I ever tried to paint anything realistic, but that didn't stop me. I very carefully drew the horse and the girl with light pencil, just like the instruction book said. I remember being so excited when the drawing was done and it was finally time to start painting. I wanted to start with the girl's face so I mixed the color for her skin. That's where I got in trouble. It wasn't that I mixed the wrong color, I just used too much water or paint or both. So when I touched my brush, sopping with brown paint, to her face, everything I had drawn so carefully, instantly became a puddle!

I was really upset, but before I had a chance to rip up the picture and throw it away, my sister came in to the kitchen. She took one look at what I was doing and said, "What happened to her face? Did the horse throw her in the mud?" That made me so angry I screamed at her. She just laughed and ran away, which only made me madder.

I guess I decided never to paint again. Pretty stupid.

But I'm not a seven year old with hurt feelings any more. I'm 15 and I'm ready to paint again!

So I painted a picture of Grandma Webster and when I was done, I stepped back from it and smiled at her, the way she was smiling at me. It felt so great to be painting again I decided to do another one. This would be a gift for someone who had been very kind to me.




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