Just BE YOU

Rita pulled into the driveway, waiting for the garage door to finish opening. Pulling into the garage she put it in park and turned the key to off. Sitting there silently, she replayed the brunch conversation with Maria. 

They had followed their normal routine of filling up their plates with the smorgasbord of food from the buffet and sat down to enjoy the over due conversation. The beginning was all about the daily stuff, catching up on the kids, work, Randy her boyfriend, Frisky their dog and tidbits about mutual friends. Out of nowhere, Maria earnestly looked at Rita and asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why do ask?” She had responded with some trepidation. Her stomach did a flip flop, was it written on her forehead that she was talking to a magazine? She was purposefully staying away from that conversation, after all, how do you tell someone such a wild story? 

Unaware that she had drifted off into her own quiet reflections, Rita was jerked back into the present moment by Maria’s concerned words.

“See that’s why I asked. You are not all here. What is going on? Are you dating someone? Are the kids okay? Work” spewed Maria

Rita looked at her dearest friend, they had journeyed so much together. Smiling she thought to herself, “if I can’t tell her then who can I tell.” Smiling, she opened up to share the truth of what was going on inside of her.Careful to not actually tell about the magazine, for she was not ready to share the instigator, privately she wanted to keep it all to herself.

Maria was very excited about what she was hearing from Rita, for it had been forever since her friend had talked about anything that centered on her own personal happiness. She had watched Rita give up everything that she was passionate about, choosing instead her boyfriend, who became her husband, then it was a job she didn’t enjoy, and of course when the kids were born that became the center of her friend’s whole world. 

Sitting silently in the car, Rita smiled as she replayed the excitement Maria expressed about her looking at her life and wondering why she had given up on her art. Delving into the deeper truth that she didn’t hate her job, but, she was definitely not happy. Then she had gotten emotional when she started to discuss the role model she was being for Frank and Francine, this made her very sad. How could she expect her children to dream and go for it in life, if she herself was “going through the motions.” 

Gathering her purse, she opened the car door to head into the house. All of a sudden it struck her, the art supplies! Yes, let’s find the box or was it boxes of her love, her passion, paints, pencils, canvases.., oh how her heart started skipping as she thought about the fun of creating. 

Setting her purse down on the step to the house, she began the search. 

“Mom, what are you doing?” called out her daughter from the doorway. 

Startled out of her search, she responded, “I’m searching for my art supplies. Do you, by chance, know where the boxes are?”

“No, I don’t, I’ve never seen your art supplies. I’m going back in, just wanted to make sure you were okay,” stated Francine

“I’ll be in soon,” came the muffled response as she continued the hunt. 

Francine quickly ran down the hallway, hoping to get one last look at the magazine before her mom came into the house. She wanted to check and see if it was real. Picking up the publication, she opened the front cover, there it was, the words written to her from earlier. “Oh no,” she panicked, “if mom sees these words, she will know that I looked at her magazine. What should she do?” Darting back and forth with the magazine in her hands, she quickly realized that there was nothing she could do. She would have to face the truth and own her snooping curiosity. 

The door to the garage opened and shut. Hurriedly she placed the magical magazine back on the night stand and ran to her room, trying to act normal. She would wait to see if what happened, not quite ready to own her actions. 

Rita brought in a large tattered box, placing it in the middle of the living room, caressing the top of it as she headed out for the other boxes. She had been amazed by how many boxes of supplies she discovered. There were four boxes with the words “Art supplies” written on them. It had not gone unnoticed to her, how her insides seemed to dance as she read those words and then opened each box to gaze at the contents inside. It was like discovering a buried treasure. 

Unable to stand the suspense, Francine joined her mom in the living room to see what she was doing. As she approached her mom, she was shocked to see a tear slide down her cheek. Transfixed she was not certain if she should enter the space or not. Standing in the hallway, she watched her mom. 

Rita didn’t know what was happening, but, she couldn’t fight it. The emotions had bubbled up, bursting forth like a cork from a champagne bottle. Warm tears dripped onto the boxes and its precious cargo. Gently she pulled out paintbrushes, tubes of paint, graphite pencils, sketch pads full of etches, partially filled canvases and other ones that were an open invitation to play. Sitting crosslegged on the floor, surrounded by the diverse objects, she became overwhelmed by the depth of her feelings, weeping, she allowed herself to absorb it all. 

Francine came out of her frozen observation and went quickly to her mom, “are you okay mom,” she asked. Putting her arm around her daughter, she answered quietly between the unchecked tears, “I’m okay sweetie, I never realized how much I missed and loved the artist in me.” 

Making heartfelt eye contact with her daughter, she smiled at the mirror she witnessed in her daughter’s beautiful eyes. “Francine, please always be true to yourself. Do not ever give up on what you love to do, share, and create. Keep what makes you happy from the inside out alive and present in your life. I gave up on art, believing what your grandpa said years ago, that I could not make a living as an artist. Then after I met your dad, I packed up all my art supplies and buried that part of myself. No one asked me to do this, it is just what I thought I was supposed to do. Listening to what others said, what society told me, buying into the game of find someone to marry, settle down, have kids, buy a house… you know what I mean. Please, listen to your heart, follow your passions and desires.”

Releasing her daughter she started to share the items from the boxes. Francine was surprised by how talented her mom was, all she had ever seen of her mom’s artwork was the two paintings that were hung up in the house. It was fun to feel her mom’s joy and genuine excitement as they continued to explore.

“What are you two doing,” asked Frank, entering the room.

“Mom brought in her boxes of art and supplies. Come and see,” exclaimed Francine.

Frank joined the two on the floor and they all got lost in the stories that rose up out of the paraphernalia lifted from the tattered boxes. 

To be continued… 8

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