As some of you might know, I’m not an overly confident kind of person. I work my way through my share of doubt on a daily basis. But when it comes to drawing I’ve always felt quite convinced that I could pretty much draw/replicate every possible image. I’ve been drawing all my life, I’ve enlarged, I’ve decreased, added and left out. And all this while drawing has always made perfect sense to me…….until now.
It is Thomas the Tank engine that got to me. Yes, this simple, child friendly train got the better of me. I was asked to make a drawing of this popular train, place him in a nice landscape; that was all. So I printed some different examples, sat down behind my desk and started to sketch what I believed to be a copy of the image in front of me. This is what it ended up looking like;
Not quite the train I was after. None of the lines made any sense. The poor thing looked it had actually collided with another train. I tried, tried and tried again, but somehow I just couldn’t get Thomas to look like the Thomas he needed to look like. Lines were running away in all different directions; all running away from me and my idea of a perfect train. I started to understand that the fluent lines I normally draw were of not going to be of any help this time around. Angles were needed. A vanishing point. A horizon line. In short, I would have to start to draw perspective. Time to take out the serious tools; geo triangle, ruler & drafting compass. Finally I had found an excuse to browse through those drawing books who’d been gathering dust on the highest bookshelf. I read, I searched the web, watched tutorials called ‘how to draw a train’. Eventually I managed a train…..
But not Thomas, not yet. More sketches were needed. Struggling with the right angle, cursing myself for being such a mathematics disaster, cursing poor Thomas for being so particular when it comes to shape and form.
Eventually, many papers later, the drawing suddenly started to take shape. Thomas placed in a grid, lines all meeting up somewhere on the far horizon. The whole thing actually started to look like a train; it was Thomas the Tank engine there on the paper…
It wasn’t perfect…..but here it comes; I believed it to be good enough. Feeling relieved and satisfied that I got anything at all on the paper, I decided to settle for this almost perfect version of the perfect drawing I had been looking for. And believe me when I say; this is an absolute first! What an achievement for an incurable perfectionist such as myself. Many thanks, Thomas!
It’s your birthday today. I wish I hadn’t remembered, but of course I did. Your birthday, but you will not grow older. You will remain untouched; there will be photographs and movies to remember you by and you will forever be the young and promising rising star you once were. Years will pass, memories will fade, new stars will rise; you might be forgotten. But I won’t forget, I will always remember. For I fell in love once…
I fell in love once. I sat in the darkened cinema and stared at you, followed your every move as you walked, talked, laughed. Mesmerized by your smile. As the credits rolled, I felt a certain kind of lightness within, I was sure I had never felt anything like it. At home, my head spinning and my mind racing, I sat behind my desk and wrote down all the words you’d put in my mind. Dedicated poem after poem to you.
In love. Silly. I knew it wasn’t real. Of course I understood that it didn’t make much sense, but I felt it nevertheless.
A certain kind of lightness. I took it with me as I travelled to Australia, felt near to you as I walked the street of your hometown. I imaged how you had walked those same streets at a certain point in your life and how we might have be looking at the same things only with different eyes. I understood that this was as close as I would ever get to meeting you.
Years passed. Australia long gone. Miles away from home, I opened my mailbox and read the news. The screen blurry in front of me. I got up, needed some air, made my way outside where the midday sun blinded me. I stood, feeling dumbstruck and frightened, thinking of the letter I never wrote to you, the admiration that would forever be unspoken . I tried to breath in and out, all the while wondering how you’re suppose to lose someone you never had. How to find a place for emotions that don’t belong anywhere.
Today, years later, I still can’t write this without tears in my eyes. Of course I know this sadness is nothing like the grief felt by others. Nothing like grief for those close to us, those we love and loose, those we know. Really know. But still there is this sorrow, my own private sense of loss; the loss of an idea, a thought. A quiet and careful grief for the loss of hope. Because, no matter how hopelessly unrealistic that hope might have been, it was my hope and it was taken from me when you died. Died at the age of 28. Found dead; lost and lonely in your New York apartment. My unacquainted soul mate, you left before we ever had the chance to meet.
And this brought about a silent sense of sadness, that I feel again today.
Today is your birthday
I wish I hadn’t remembered
Of course I did
For I fell in love once…