Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Martha. Art. Pbbblt.

Everybody in my family is naturally artistic.

We showcase my mother's oil paintings of the Vietnam landscape in rosewood frames around our living room and everyone assumes they're professional.

My brothers all sketch. One does comic style japanimation. The other specializes in animals.

Everybody in my family is naturally artistic.

Except me.

I can't make a face, a line, a circle. Nothing. I can't see something and represent it on paper. I don't eveh know where to start and I assure you I had a first class education complete with daily art classes where they tried to drill the elementary principles of drawing into my brain.

I was left with one simple conclusion thanks to first year biology:

I'm adopted.

Growing up, I found other reasons to add to this list.

My mother and brothers favor their left hand.
My nose tilts up while theirs falls flat.
They love camping and the outdoors and I hate hate hate all of that business.
They are all naturally slim and muscular and I'm, well, let's use the word: zaftig.
They found academia difficult and I always found it easy - not that I was some kind of genius or particularly motivated, I just never had to try very hard to meet the minimum requirements of whatever it took to hit the honor roll.

We can joke about it, but growing up, in the haze of teen melodrama, I genuinely imagined that I belonged to another family - one that would understand me if only I could find them. Preferably one with a last name like Rockefeller.

I'm guessing I'm not unique. Not just in my art suckiness, but also in how much I felt like an outcast in my own family, and when you're a kid spending a lot of time with your family it means feeling really, really alone.

For years, it was so easy to see the things that made us different, that I never thought about what made us the same. Not until my husband got together with my brothers' wives and had themselves a complain-about-the-family pow-wow.

Turns out we all are party poopers when it comes to Santa (who wants to admit to having a kid who falls for that line o' crap?) and giving gifts (clutter, ugh), and feelings (don't have 'em, don't wanna talk about 'em) and apocalypse scenarios (prepare or die) and a whole bunch of things.

It's just enough for me to figure: Art. Pbbblt.


Juliet Blackwell said...

I'd say your art is writing, my friend. But it cracks me up that you saw a lack of interest in drawing/painting as proof that you didn't belong in your family. Mine is that there are almost no pictures of me as a baby (I was #3) and I always thought of myself as a free spirit, vs a rather steady, conventional family. But since I look like a carbon copy of my Mom, guess I have to give up the "left by gypsies" fantasy.

L.G.C. Smith said...

When I was around seven or eight, I took to telling my sister who's closest to me in age that she was adopted. Despite looking exactly like a girl version of our dad (as do I), and having his personality, too, she bought it. For years. But in our family, she was the artistic one, which I defined as being able to draw. I couldn't. I'm like you, Martha. My five-year-old niece draws better than I do and has a more sophisticated eye for style (except where Barbies and Disney princesses are concerned).

AnnaC said...

I so relate to the adopted idea ... and, yes, it was wonderful to be a melancholy teenager because I could indulge all of those thoughts!!

I agree with Juliet...writing in an art.

But, I feel your pain... everyone in my family is TALENTED in some way, and I am not... but if I twist the notion of talent sometimes I come up with something.

There is certainly art in a turn of phrase and the ability to convey a story in a way that keeps people turning pages!

Martha Flynn said...

The way you guys make me feel less wacko? Also an art. Thanks. :)

Rachael Herron said...

I told Christy she was adopted and she cried for days. I was mean that way. She didn't like the idea, but yep, I always hoped I was adopted myself -- none of us looked alike until Bethany came along and looked like a mash-up of me and Christy, and I had to admit I wasn't. There IS something so attractive about the idea.....

Mysti said...

My dad used to jokingly tell my brothers that I was an only child. Like that's even funny. Especially not when they felt the unfairness required some kind of joint response--kidnapping my stuffed dog Alberto and whatnot.

Martha, I think you have an artist's gift for remembering and imagining things, like that house we were talking about a few weeks ago. you know, THAT house....who keeps knowledge like that except those with an artistic bent?

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