My very first scenic oil-painting attempt was in 1985. Cole was painting on the patio of his parents house and I was sacked out inside (out of the sun) clicking around the cable channels and I stopped on an episode of The Joy of Painting.
I watched all twenty minutes of it and then I stood up. Fuck it, I thought. I can do that.
So I went out and asked Cole if I could do a painting too. He thought that was great. Seventeen and fourteen painting together. I turned my easel around so he couldn't see it and demanded all of the bright colors. He pointed to the paint and asked if I needed any help.
I didn't. Of course.
I was finished in an hour, thanks to Bob Ross's epic shortcuts. Fan brush dipped in semicircles on the canvas? Great palm tree leaves. I used a big fat brush to blend, blend, blend until my rainbow sky was perfect. And then I turned my canvas around to proudly show Cole my tropical beach painting.
He lied and said it was amazing. I thought it was amazing too until I took a painting workshop a few years later and then came back and thought, what an abomination!
Lochlan had a whole different view. He thinks every little thing I think, draw or write is an unspoken wish that should be picked, harvested as soon as possible, fulfilled. All signs are true. She needs something, he thinks. Every damned time.
You want to go somewhere warm when you grow up? No more cold, east-coast rainy foggy seashores?
No, I'd rather be at a cold seashore with lots to see and do than lie on a beach somewhere under a cliche palm tree soaking up the rays. SO boring.
That abomination now hangs in the laundry room of my parent's house in Halifax. My mom thinks it's 'cheerful'. I'm going to have to ask her to take a picture of it so I can show you.
And that brings me to my next point, because unlike most days, I have one.
Ben does not like to do 'things' when he is not working. He is happy lying...under a cliche palm tree soaking up the rays.
I got into it, got rested up for a whole two days before getting restless with a capital B. I was wiggly, fidgety, disruptive and distressed. I would have climbed the walls if they had been made of actual building materials instead of hard woven grass. I would have gone for a walk if only there was somewhere to go outside of the circle of sand. I would have gone for a drive but we were boated here from a larger island with an airport. I contemplated making a big SOS in the sand for a plane to take me away but then I realized I didn't really want to leave Big Ben the Sloth behind so I finally went for a swim.
Ben was dripping off the edge of the hammock, asleep in the sun. I
sprayed him down with Sunblock 3000000 before I changed into my suit. Then
on my way past him a second time I opted to cover him with three towels
instead. He's not awake. I don't have the heart to wake him up, I don't
get to see him much when he's doing nothing. Come to think of it most of the time if he's not doing something he's asleep.
The water was cold comfort. Not only was it freezing but growing up the boys left me with an incredible fear of what's under the surface. I have difficulty being in deep water because of the Loch Ness monster...which I will leave to your imagine but it's REAL and it has red hair and it can hold its breath for an eternity, or what seems like an eternity to a perpetual child so nevermind. Adding to all this baggage, I'm not supposed to swim alone because I also have a gift for being unable to gauge how tired I'll be for the swim back.
Since I can't outswim my frustrations I come back into shore. I march as fast as I can up to the cottage (which takes about fifteen minutes in deep sand and I look like a graceless walrus doing it, thanks) to find that Ben is awake! He is inside the master bedroom pulling our things out and packing our bags.
Hey! I tell him. (Maybe we can do something?! Hey let's do stuff. Wanna snorkel? We should snorkel. Wanna slow dance? Maybe we should eat first. Let's play cards. My brain is doing that but my mouth is all cool and just says Hey.)
Fucking mouth. Traitor.
You don't have to say it. Our time is up anyway.
What do you mean? (For once I'm waiting for him to talk. Like, completely.)
Three things. I have to get back to work, I am acutely aware that removing you from Lochlan for any more than a couple of days is dangerous for all involved, and yes, I've been around long enough to know the story of the tropical beach painting and precisely how you feel about languishing under a palm tree for much more than a couple of days. I just...I just needed a few days with you. Alone. Somewhere sunny for once because jesus, living in the rain forest is tough, bee.
I shrink down to thimble size, drowning in a tiny instant sea of guilt and remorse at high tide. I don't even know if he can hear me from down here but I try anyway.
I'm sorry, Benny.
He turns and smiles at me, picking me up between his thumb and his forefinger. Don't be, baby. I know the drill and I got what I wanted and you got some sleep and we crossed off a bucket list item and it's good. Okay? Relax. Besides, we can fight on the plane the whole way home if you want or we can just watch movies again.
(Because NO. The plane is stocked with Tim Burton movies and just NO.)
I think I'll take a boat home, Ben.
But what about the leviathans and sea monsters and giant-
FINE! FINE! I'll go on the plane! Just no more Dark Shadows.
Fuck, no, Ben!
(For those wondering about the bucket list item, it was not renting a private island. It was having sex in a hammock in broad daylight. So there. Yeah yeah, hi mom.)