Personal Stories

The Name My Husband Gave Me

When I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from a Baptist college, I didn’t know which I hated more – the snobby art professors or the snobby Christians. So I just decided to denounce both art and Christianity, the two biggest parts of my identity up until that point.

Those were some dark, formative years after college. Looking back I think God was performing mouth-to-mouth on my faith, but there was no one to speak up for my art.

Except Brian, my husband.

He’s never pushy, because he hates to be pushed, but over the years he bought little things to encourage me – sketchbooks, Prismacolors, Liquitex Acrylics. I put them in a box under our bed and they lay there like skeletons for years.

A few days ago, we were Christmas shopping when he saw me eyeing an oil paint set. (Oil painting was my thing, and I was good at it.)

“You should get that,” he said.

“It’s too expensive. And I can’t paint in the apartment because there’s no ventilation. I’ll asphyxiate myself. And if I get it in the carpet, it’ll never, ever come out.”

They were all excuses, and he knew it. (He never seems to buy my bullshit.) He stared at me for a second, then said, “We’ll put down newspaper. You know, that’s still a part of you, and you need to develop it.”

“Some other time,” I said, like I always say, and went looking for the bathroom.

When I met up with him again at the cash register, that expensive oil set was already in a bag.

I hadn’t touched a canvas in five years. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost all your talent,” Brian said. “You should still paint.”

As we finished our Christmas shopping, I kept checking in the bag to make sure they were still there. As soon as we got home I opened up the tube of Cadmium Red and inhaled. It smelled like Studio, that place you go to forget about the world for hours at a time.

The next night, I quietly got out my sketchbook and Prismacolors and started to draw.

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