I don't ever remember the end of a school year quite like this one. By the first week of May, I felt like I was moving through mud, totally exhausted and needing summer break to arrive as quickly as possible. I had stopped creating my own art, and instead took on the task of assigning 2,500 grades, creating awards for students who had seen a successful year, and writing referral after referral for students who suddenly began treating school like a prison yard. Yes, I had to google how to spell "shank".
My classroom that had fell into such a messy disaster, that I asked my para to just burn it down.
As much as I longed for summer break, I was also fearful for it's arrival. Two reasons:
1. I am not going anywhere this summer. Last summer I drove to Mexico for 6 weeks. The year before that I traveled around South East Asia for a month and a half. The thought of such a long amount of unfilled time in one location makes me nervous.
2. I quit drinking in January. Now, I'm not saying I'm an alcoholic, but GOD, I do love myself some alcoholic beverages. Summertime has always meant buying a box of red wine to last a week, then always being surprised when no matter how much a tilt the damn thing, not a drop comes out. Like, three days after I bought it.
In the first few days of sobriety I was playing on Pinterest and found some images of cigar boxes that had been turned into beautiful little works of art. The next day I acquired some cigar boxes and set to work. These boxes have become a bit of an obsession. The time that I had once spent drinking, is now spent imagining surreal storybook scenes, where the butterfly is the main character, and almost everything else is made of the pages of my favorite books. The money I spent on booze is now spent on materials for boxes, and my studio space on Santa Fe. When all is wrong in the world, and Trump is the president, and my ceiling is cracking, and I somehow managed to piss my boss off so badly that I'm considering never leaving my room next year, these little boxes make it all ok. Creating these perfect scenes, where butterflies are the main characters, and everything is perfect and beautiful, somehow makes my life feel perfect and beautiful. Even on the days when this could not be further from the truth.
The first few days of summer break, after I had watched ALL of Kimmy Schmidt, AND Bloodline AND American Crime (yeah, that's like 3 straight days of Netflix), I found myself on the couch, anxiety stricken. So much time to fill... And that smart voice that lives somewhere in deep in my brain, told me to just go to the studio and get to work.
Most non-artists probably think that looks something like this: Lauri is hit with sudden inspiration, devises a plan, creates it, then happily heads home. This is what it actually looks like: Lauri circles the block 5 times before settling on a parking space. Lauri opens door to studio to find that it is a disaster. Lauri cleans studio. Lauri looks on internet. Lauri checks Facebook. Lauri contemplates going home. Lauri finds a podcast to listen to. After 45 minutes of procrastination, Lauri finally pulls out materials, and starts covering paper with random materials. Lauri curses the sky, as it looks like shit, then tries something new. This repeats itself over and over again, until I finally find something that I'm intrigued by. It's a slow process from there, trying to figure out how to make all of this come together into a scene in a tiny box, that is both visually and conceptually intriguing.
Not nearly as romantic as one might imagine.
But I went to the studio that day, and while I did not make anything "successful" I felt good about the time spent. I think this is how most people feel about the gym.
On the way home, it hit me. I have all the time in the world to make all the art I want. This was a brilliant revelation for me, that's probably really obvious to every other normal human being. I called my boyfriend to tell him this exciting news. I told him I kind of wanted to go back to the studio, even though it was 9 pm. He reminded me that I could indeed go back to the studio. He reminded me that I could stay there until 5am if that's what I wanted to do. And so I did.
The anxiety I had about all this time has faded. This time is a gift.