There was no sidewalk on that side of the road, so I trudged through the soaking grass, admiring the grey of the sky. Walking past the sign out front I was presented with a mental dilemma - those of you with social anxiety will understand - : the front door was open and only the clear screen door was covering the portal. Oh the pain of being seen without the appropriate time to prepare.
I knocked. A dog barked, turning away from me as often as its wariness would allow to check that a human was coming. A few more dogs showed up. Then a woman’s voice, very nearby: “someone’s at the door, hon . . .” A few more moments passed before the man limped up to the door. I smiled and explained that I had been the woman on the phone yesterday, and that I was here to pick up that wood. “Oh, you need to come on around back.” At this point his daughter had joined us all as well - a girl of about 14 with a simple, pretty face and an observant gaze. I quickly asked for clarification about where, exactly, that alley was. “Up this road over here,” she pointed, “and your first right.” She was so calm. It helped calm me.
I pulled by SUV around to the back gravel lot behind their house where there were three stacks of wood piled 5’ high. The man came out, daughter at his side, and I could see the reason for his limp: a prosthetic leg. He began asking me about what type of wood I wanted, it took everything within me to not shrug childishly. I told him that I could just use whatever’s on top and whatever is easiest for now. I wouldn’t be making anything exciting for a while and it would all just be practice. The father-daughter team began unpacking 10 pieces of wood, and the girl would then carry them over to the back of my car.
I left already feel accomplished. The smell of lumber filled my SUV and I inhaled deeply, smiling sillily.
Look, starting new things is awkward. It just is. But nothing beats that sense of daring excitement that comes after a new endeavor, and I’d only just gotten the wood to get started.
I had previous experience with a bit of carpentry: I had framed several paintings over the years, but my experience was limited to using a mitre saw, a table saw, and a band saw. This whole process began with my purchasing a Ryobi circular saw with leftover loan money. A whole $40! I brought it home excitedly, immediately taking it out of the box and assembling it, skimming over the manual - only spending time reading how to use it and the safety.
That night I cut up the wood I had purchased along with my saw - to create a set of rustic, barnwood inspired frames for my small cowboy paintings I was about to display in the annual MFA show at the Reece Museum. I loved them, and loved the added element of wear and home-made it brought to my paintings. Most artists want the frame to disappear, to merely set apart their painting from the wall. Mine added to the rustic feel.
I was deterred, for a while. But after graduation, I set up a workbench.
I settled on an entryway bench. Our entryway is . . . pretty much non-existent and I really wanted to give us both a space dedicated to that transition from inside to out. Transitional spaces are key.
I created a drawing of what I wanted, but kept it vague so that I could change it around when things didn’t go according to plan. They never do, so just allow your mind to accept it by preparing for it. Then, I got to work.
Start something new. Begin planning and gather your supplies now. That’s the first step. Get started!!