Under the bed in our guest room/my office is a dark little secret.
All of my life I have been an artist, and for years I was an oil-painter. I made my living with commercial illustrations and graphic design, but my soul was in my oil paintings. It has been years, since before I had Jeffrey, since I have gotten down and dirty and really painted with oils, but they are still sitting in their spattered and stained wooden box, with the clay crock of well-used and loved brushes, on the top shelf in my sewing room. Oil painting is something you don’t do on the fly; it requires uninterrupted time and musing and strong chemicals and a singularity of attention that I just don’t have as a mama. Oil painting is a love affair I just don’t have room for in my life. Someday, oh, someday I will again, but for now…
So my secret. My secret is the cache of paintings hiding under the bed. Stacks and stacks of them- they actually don’t all live under the bed- there isn’t room. They are stuffed in the utility hallway, the closet and between the mattresses. They are hiding. I keep them hiding because they are really not suitable for wholesome or all-ages viewing, and therein lies my conundrum. These paintings are so dear to me, they are like my pre-children- I worked out so very many of my problems and questions about life in them. They are where I searched for God, for my own identity, for love and for sensuality, and where I found some of the answers I was looking for.
But… Well, they are the paintings of a young, wild, woman searching, and they are racy, and volatile and some of them are frightening and angry and passionate, and, well, I really don’t want my kids so stumble upon them. Ever. It may be something I decide to share with them someday, when they are much older, and can discern for themselves the value in them, but I am not even sure about that. It is not that they are bad- actually they are rather good, not to toot my own horn, but they are also dark, and not something you would hang over the sofa. ( That was actually a common complaint about my art from my mother) So what do I do with them??
There are people who would not hesitate to get rid of them, to excise that part of my life, to get rid of the evidence; I don’t think I can or want to do that. They are part of me, part of what got me here, where I am now, and I like where I am. Is removing a foundation stone of the life you built because it isn’t who you are now really a good idea? I mean, I am standing on the shoulders of the young woman who painted those paintings, should I cut her up? I love the woman who painted them- she is me, and I her. Even though I no longer need to explore the areas those paintings delved deep into, they are part of the road that brought me the peace and love that I have now.
So, what do I do? Do I keep them in hiding, like some sort of physical portal into my subconscious? Therefore risking my kids stumbling into mama’s underwater id? Do I burn them on the pyre of personal progress in the backyard? Do I do nothing? They are there, literal eyes under the bed, watching me, waiting to see what I will do.