Here’s how I drilled a hole in my thumb:
When Bernard walked into our bedroom, I was in the middle of saying: farewell, blue shirt; thank you for bringing out the blue in my eyes.
And Bernard said: what the hell are you doing?
And I said: I told you already; I’m going to spend three hours cleaning out my closet (which, really, technically, is our closet). And I’m using a new technique called KonMari, because the woman who developed it has a zero percent return client rate; once she helps clean out a closet, her clients never have to do it again.
And Bernard said: I think you need to KonMari yourself downstairs and finish all these pictures for your show, or they won’t be ready to hang next week.
I had told him already that I was going to work on the closet and told him already that it would take three hours and told him already that we’d work on the pictures in the late afternoon, once I was finished.
It took not three but nine and a half hours to get through the whole closet project (farewell, denim jacket; thank you for teaching me about impulse buying), and so we did not get to work on the pictures on Saturday.
And we didn’t get to work on them Sunday, either, because my daughter, who helped me through the home stretch of the closet project, had been waiting very very patiently for me to help her with her room, because she wanted a clean start for the new year. (As an aside, she does not have even a single moment’s hesitation saying: sayonara, ratty-looking jeans; good riddance. I very much admire that quality in her.)
It was well into Monday – dinnertime – when I was finally ready to help put the paper backings on all the filled frames, all 18 of them, with two empties to spare because spares are almost always a good idea, except when you are cleaning out your closet. But I am better at cooking dinner than Bernard is, and the kids were hungry, and it was the night before second semester started. So Bernard glued the brown paper onto the backs of the frames, the first 10. On Tuesday he did the remainder of them, which left only the wire and wire hangers to add.
…because I felt guilty for having gotten to do 100% of the fun work (making the art) and only a tiny fraction of the hard work (cutting the mats) while Bernard did 99% of the hard work (making 20 frames by planing and cutting and assembling worm-holed, unpredictable, reclaimed wood, then putting glass in each and every frame), …
… because Bernard’s vintage iPhone 3 died, and he was watching YouTube videos about how to take it apart and get it to boot up again (as if I could make that up), …
I decided that I, all by myself, would put the wires and wire hangers on the backs of the frames.
I don’t remember exactly what technique I used the last time I had a show and made frames for my work, because it was 22 years ago (which is a story for another day), but I do remember getting a call from someone who purchased a piece saying the piece had fallen because I had done a completely terrible and unprofessional job of putting hardware on the frames. So, back then, I got a carpenter friend to help me fix and reassemble, and everything was fine, and I learned that the hardware is every bit as important as the art, even though you can’t see it, the same way the proper undergarments make the outer-garments look right.
Since Bernard is really much better at this whole carpentry-woodworking thing than I am, I asked for very specific instructions about how to attach the wires, and the instructions were to use the drill to screw screws to hold the wire hangers that would hold the wire. Easy peasy.
Bernard said, very clearly: don’t hold the screw while you’re running the drill, in case the screw moves or the drill slips.
And I said: I just need to hold it in place to get it started.
And Bernard said: I’m telling you, don’t hold the screw while the drill is running.
But I did anyway, which is how I drilled a hole in my thumb. And then I said: motherfucker. And then Bernard said: I told you so. And really, he did earn the right to say that; he did. And when I said: I think I might faint, Bernard said: sit down, you’re fine. And after a minute I was, mostly.
And then I said: So you’re doing the rest of these, as soon as you get your phone put back together.
And Bernard said: Un-uh, get back on that horse, missy. These are all you.
Which was exactly, precisely the right thing to say.
Because a true friend – spouse, lover, parent, any kind of real partner in life – knows how and when to help you move forward. They know, or learn to know, your capabilities and limitations and fears and desires and wants and needs and know when to push you ahead and when not. They say: you are fine, you are capable, you are learning, you are strong. They say: I can help you, let’s try together, keep practicing, don’t be afraid, I am here with you. They say: there is no someday; there is today.
Get back on the horse, that’s what a friend says.
You can ride that horse if you want to.
That’s a mean-ass horse; get off now.
I think you might like this horse better.
I fell off a horse once, too. Me too.
I finished putting the wire on all 18 frames, all without incident. No, I didn’t hold the screw again while running the drill. Yes, all of the frames seem to be holding their weight as they hang on the wall, on public display, out there in the wide open for anyone to see.
Yes, last night, for the first time in a very, very long time, there was an opening for a show of my artwork, out there in public, paired with opening an online store, one that, like everything else, will improve with time and experience. And to celebrate I got to spend a few hours with the most terrific, incredible, wonderful, eclectic, interesting, loving people anyone could ever hope to know, my friends. Even the friends who couldn’t be there in real life were there in spirit, as they always are, always. It was awesome and humbling and fun and dear and hysterical and touching.
Because friends say:
Keep riding. Don’t stop. We believe in you.