The Beginning of Creative Expression

Growing up, I was always surrounded by creative expression of some form. Whether it was my mother’s Puerto Rican folkloric dance, my father’s stories of the bands he’d sung for, or my sister’s doodles, there was always something artistic afoot.  So you can probably imagine my dismay when years kept passing and there was little ole me, still lacking claim of an artistic niche of my own. While I excelled in my mother’s youth dance group and, in fact, thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my membership, I was always left wanting but never knowing what for.  To remedy my conundrum I thought I’d dip into the gene pool for some answers and try drawing and singing.

After filling a notebook with nothing more than tracings of my sister’s drawings, I realized it might be time for me to move onto singing. I remember waiting for everyone to retreat to their corners of the house before going to my absolute favorite hiding place in all the world, underneath the dining room table.  Feeling safe and well hidden, I would sing my heart out. Even though I was pretty sure my fortress was impenetrable, I made a point to frequently check for eavesdroppers. For months I sang under the table and was content. Lulled into security by time, I would sing at length without checking for spies, as I liked to think of them. Then, came the day that marked the beginning of my silent years.

My mom and sister were off at a performance and my brother was at a safe distance on the third floor, so as usual I crawled under the table to sing. Lost in joy, and deaf to the outside world, I didn’t notice the time. Chattering group members started to fill my house and I was still singing. It only took me a few seconds to snap out of my zone and realize I was being heard. I prayed their conversation was enough to mask my slip-up. Then I heard someone laugh loudly and make some comment about my singing. Even though their comment was innocent, I felt destroyed. I stopped singing.

As luck would have it, my traumatic moment occurred at the precipice of teenage-hood. Not only had I lost something that made me happy, I had stumbled into the darkness of teenage angst.  Everything annoyed and angered me and I had no idea why. Soon I stopped dancing and that’s when things got really bad. I started to take notice of things I didn’t have, stuff I didn’t get to do and I was looking for someone and something to blame. So I blamed the artist life. Since that was a tad too abstract, I focused my assault on my mom. For years I watched her, and thus the entire family, struggle financially because she pursued her art so feverishly. I am ashamed to admit it, but I resented my mom and all creative expression as a whole for everything bad that ever happened to me.

Then one day I emerged from the dark side. I had gotten through the dreaded teen years. While I was still angry at many things, I became capable of true self reflection. As an adult I can stop running from the call of creative expression and most of all, stop blaming it for my insecurities. This time around, I will not hide the things that fill me with joy.

I will sing.

I will dance tango. 

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