48x36 Acrylic, Resin Coated
I always used to say that someday I would write a novel where the last paragraph is the part of my life when I drive my white mustang off into the desert listening to “Wild Horses.”
It is for this exact reason that in 2013 I got a white mustang, with the Nevada horse plate that says “Wild + Free.” That day came. I was in the middle of the open desert, sun setting perfectly. I had three years clean, somebody financed me a $30,000 car, and the scene was perfectly beyond what I could have hoped for.
But somehow, I knew I was in the scene. I guess I had always just pictured it as a feeling. I knew at that moment that I would never have the ability to write what it really felt like. I don’t know how to balance perfection with pain. I always just wanted to be wild, until that accomplishment (in every extreme) made me only want to be free.
My perception of freedom when I was younger was jaywalking on Belmont & Clark dressed like Cyndi Lauper, having weird shoes and the best wigs + awesome places to wear it all to.
These days freedom is the feeling of catching a wave and not being afraid. It is the discipline of paying all of my bills on time and saving money, the discipline of painting every day and taking the highs with the lows in stride because none of it defines me either way.
Now that I’m older I guess freedom comes from manageability and structure. I wish I could tell you what a hurricane of life and circumstance it took to get to this point, but I can’t continue to heal and grow by telling all of the same stories.
I went back to my hometown a few weeks ago. The trip really beat my ass and made me question everything about my perception of myself in literally every role in life I have, how I have healed from mistakes I have made, how I respond to loss and what the past means to me. I guess I thought I had everything in it’s neat compartments for so many years. Except every single trigger and thing came out into the open and it was like I was the one locked in the compartment, suffocating.
It’s safe to say I had a nervous breakdown, hysterical and lost in Gary Indiana because I80 is under incredible construction and I was trying to take the back roads back to my Moms from Michigan. Suddenly the road was blocked, the phone charger died and my phone died. I just sat there with my head on the steering wheel for ten minutes.
When I looked up there was a sign that said “West Beach 2 miles.” with an arrow pointing. I recognized the train tracks. And as luck would have it, that was the beach my Dad took me to once every summer for my whole life. It was my favorite place in existence when I lived in the Midwest, and the only place in the entire state of Indiana that I would know how to get to my Moms from without a map.
There is a wild freedom in the grace of recognizing when the angels come to assist.
My sponsor gave me a writing assignment to do on the plane on my way back to San Diego, and it was to list all of my accomplishments, how far I have come, and what I love about myself and my life. Because I feel nothing. I feel like I am nothing, frozen. I haven’t actually done the assignment yet.
But I did sit down to try to paint the feelings out of me. I was picturing something very dark, black and muted. But this painting came out. That was how I remembered that I have always taken pain and tried to make it into something nicer. Something more socially acceptable. Something that works and can engage. So far, that skill has gotten me this far.
I sat on the floor with the canvas all night trying to come up with a name for her. My old Nevada horse plate was hanging on the wall in the distance as I studied the painting. The “Wild + Free” caught my eye.
My paintings are the novels I always thought I would write. I’m almost always in a scene but I don’t really have to come up with words anymore. More just the movement, color and feeling - without all the trouble of picturing myself.
I am wild + I am free.