When I woke up this morning, it was to the smell of burning wood. A big box of matches or a campfire. But in the middle of the city? Then the acrid smell of singed asphalt shingles started wafting in through the open window. And I was awake, running from door to door inside the house trying to see how close the fire was to my own home. About thirty seconds later, I heard the first distant fire truck speeding down the straight-line road from the local fire house. At 75 degrees at seven o'clock in the morning, you really have to respect the Detroit Fire Department, rolling out in full rubberized gear and helmets to battle summer house fires (and, even worse, summer arson). The roar of the engines pumping water and it was all over in ten minutes. A bad a/c unit? A shorted-out fan? I worry about these things. They pester at the back of my mind like the whine of a gnat. I pull the wires of my own window fans and check them and I put my hand to the motor housing of my ceiling fan to check if it is running hot. Nada. All good.
Then I am making coffee and looking at the acrylic paint I am covered in to the elbows. It was a painting weekend. Well, a painting and collage weekend. I woke up yesterday morning covered to the elbows in gel medium, peeling off my skin like the Elmer's School Glue we used to cover our fingers with in elementary school when we challenged each other to peel a whole fingerprint free. But today it is grey. Neutral grey and Payne's grey, smeared like smoke across the pale skin of the backs of my hands. And rather than being annoyed at the mess, I was rather relieved that I was doing something again that I had not done seriously in years. The itch of the dried paint was familiar like a favorite song.
But how I got here was not so pleasant. The person who I thought to be my biggest fan, my chosen partner for the remainder of my life, fell into a chasm of doubt. I fell in as well, though it felt as if I had been pushed with burning hand prints still on the meat of my shoulder blades. Blindsided. I had no idea there were ever any doubts in his mind because there certainly were none in mine. And after over a month of not sleeping for the nightmares and of not being able to get comfortable alone, I read a horoscope. And that horoscope said, "Remember who you were in your childhood. Get back to your core you." And rather than being the raw half of a torn couple, I decided that I should try to just be me again.
So here I sit with a cup of coffee growing cold and two arms full of flaking paint and a favorite song running through my mind. The smoke is still rolling into the air from the next block over but smelling it means I am alive. I am still alive.