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History in a drawer

When you throw the reins upon the neck of imagination, a slight phrase will open closed drawers. This is exactly what happened when a friend posted on Facebook — she was cleaning drawers and ran across a poem written to her by her mother. Another friend responded, “It is fun to find history in a drawer.”

When I told Al that this phrase kept speaking to me, he said, “I have a whole trunk of trophies and I wonder if I should get rid of them. We’ve hauled them around for years. They are not worth anything.”

I responded, “But those trophies showed eighteen years of your life and what you did. You are not able to do that today and you wouldn’t want to. Those years took the life out of you, but we have a lot of stories to tell.”

I remember every trophy Al won. I was a proud wife standing beside him. He was an overachieving husband who worked hard trying to prove his worth to me and his company. We both gave up a lot; he traveled week after week and I kept the home together. Was it the ideal situation? No, but we thought it was at the time and those trophies were golden images showing we lived that life. Best Salesman of the Quarter, Salesman of the Year, Most Improved, President’s Birthday Week, Broken Records — they all provided confidence of who we thought we were.

In my print drawer are myriads of art ideas, some good, some great, some could be better with a little work. For two years in the 90s I worked for an internet company called USAPainter.com. I phoned painters all over the country, residential and commercial, interviewing and writing about them. That’s when I met Julie and Larry from Minnesota.

Larry is a painter and I interviewed and wrote about Julie, “The Painter’s Wife.” The interview was so funny and we developed such a winsome relationship we decided to work on a project together. We developed a whole cartoon strip with the boss, a secretary and the workers. They were great cartoons and the idea could have been big and still could be, but it was dropped because life, children and family took over and our direction changed. Maybe it is time to pull those out of the drawer.

“The Happy Painter” is a cartoon series and another idea. On the web, we had six seconds to grab the viewer’s attention and cartoons could do that. They had very little text and a picture that told it all and were humorous. I began drawing cartoons about painters. Al had a short stint as a painter in his early days. He fell off the house, spilt a gallon of paint on a lady’s rosebush, and that ended his days as a painter. But, oh, the stories I could tell about Al through the cartoons. I hadn’t thought about those for years until I thought about “history in a drawer.”

Those cartoons were so funny and endearing to me as I poked fun of my sweet Al. I could just see Al spilling a bucket of blue paint on the lady’s roses and painting all the roses in the yard blue to cover up his mistake. And how many times has Al painted me into a corner? Or himself? I can not count the times. And using his Volkswagen as a paint truck, carrying a 30-foot ladder on top or when he needed a paint strainer. He cut off one leg of my pantyhose and left the other one in the drawer. Yes, “It is fun to find history in a drawer.”

Is it time to pull out the cartoons and dust them off? Maybe they were what they needed to be at the time. They’ve had their shelf life. In those cartoon years some beautiful relationships developed. Many of those experiences have lent to the Artist’s Lane articles today. “Everyone Knows Larry” is one of them. We are still laughing.

Some times when I see all I have done over the years, I scratch my head and think, “What was that about? Just another item on my resume?” Those years of history add to who and what we are today and also the friendships we brought along the way. They show years of self sacrifice, work, diligence, purpose and enjoyment. Yes, a lot of enjoyment. They did have purpose, maybe not the way we thought. We were just writing our story as we lived it.

Final Brushstroke: Nothing is wasted, it’s our history, it’s who we are and it leads us to our purpose.

Artist’s Quote

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” Charles Dickens, writer

Readers’ Comments

E-mail me about your history in a drawer. I’ll share it with others. E-mail bettyslade@centurytel.net.