The hems of my yellow silk skirt collected concrete dust as I bravely stepped past the line of ladders and up to the Wall. As the people on the Wall gathered about to sneer and snicker, I hung it by myself, standing my ground in my sturdy souled shoes, with nothing but a hammer, a step stool, and long silver nails designed to last.
I call this painting Wonder, and created it just for this spot. A few weeks back, I saw a Short Waves report about the latest fingernail scratching on the leaden, slate Wall. I couldn't get the sound out of my mind. It was a common scenario. One fist clamped to their ladder, the other clawing at their neighbor as they tried pushing them off in order to get to the top. The sound of fingernails and the ladder scraping on the slate was excruciating.
It's not the first time I've received this reaction. When I've invited Splashians to visit my studio, most squinted and cringed as if they just stared into the sun. The walls of my studio are painted a delicious black, making my iridescent songs splash right off the wall. I love it, but for most, the brightness is just too much.
They've become adjusted to the muted life. On the Wall, people who might be drawn to anything vibrant are thought to have no social grace, trying to bring attention to themselves, or just naïve. Gray is chic, and so is beige. Only young girls (or celebrities) adorn themselves in preposterous pink, but they better put an end to that by the time they reach puberty. It's common to see teenage girls sneak in a gregarious green bracelet or a pulsating purple scarf before they finally give in to mauve or taupe, else they be seen as culturally clueless.
Besides, there is a time and place for color. Bursts of colorful flowers line the windows on the Wall, as long as they are planted in their proper place. Occasional orange blossoms, spring green leafy trees, and salmon and gold sunsets are acceptable. For one concrete reason. They don't last.
The sparkling tears or sighs triggered by that blossom or sunset don't last either. From their brief encounter, they've experienced just enough glow to keep going up another rung, their heart sinking just hard and fast enough to stay numb so that they don't allow themselves to go through it again. As the dance with wonder dissipates, a reminder seems to boom down from the Wall that there are more pressing things, like gaining leverage on the ladder. On the Wall, that's what's they need to make last.
Unlike blossoms and sunsets, paintings last. Unless, of course, they are taken down.
With so many stunned or outraged eyes upon me, after I hung my painting, I folded up my step stool, wondering just how long it would be before Wonder would be taken down. It used to be disheartening to hang a painting one day only to find it groped, punctured, or scrapped the next. I used to take it personally, wondering if people hated my paintings, or me, until I realized it was the squinting factor. Long ago, my eyes adjusted to the brightness, making wonder last. Working on the Wall, theirs never had the chance.
And so I no longer fret. With every painting I hang, from the quick glances over the shoulder to the deep, enthralled stares, I know Wonder has won its way into some unsuspecting soul. With every painting I hang, eyes are adjusting more and more to Wonder. Even if for only a fleeting moment, Wonder always illuminates.
Now, with hammer, nails and step stool in hand, I'm headed over to the Abusement Park to hang up another painting. That's the thing. When you're the one making Wonder, you can also make it last. Whenever someone or something takes Wonder down, I just hang up another one. That's not only what sturdy souled shoes are for, but flyers, posters and prints!