When I was a kid my favorite thing to do was go on adventures. Usually this simply constituted walking around in the woods behind my house. The horses in my neighbor’s yard were mythical sea serpents that galloped away in fear when they saw me with my mighty sword. My parents’ Japanese maple tree was a twenty armed snake monster that was no match for my ninja skills. Halfway through hacking up the tree, reality suddenly set in and I thought “This probably isn’t a good idea,” but I justified my decision to stop beating up the tree as an act of mercy. So when my parents found that I had only hacked off half the limbs they only grounded me for a week instead of the rest of my life.
Armed with a good toy sword I could conquer anything that stood in my path. My favorite was a light-up Aladdin sword replica that my grandma got me when we went to go see Disney on Ice. It was the best sword because it could not only hack down branches and monsters but it could also light up the darkest deer paths and caves under my house.
But then you get older and the woods behind your house are no longer interesting. Going to your friend’s house for the day seems like no time at all and the blanket and stuffed animals you’ve loved your whole life suddenly become embarrassing. I became more interested in playing video games or chasing girls and the worst was when I started caring what girls actually thought of me.
High school for me was like a very boring after school special. Nothing terrible happened except for the occasional hook-up and/or break-up. I never got beat-up by an upperclassman or shoved into a locker. I suppose I was born a romantic though so after every breakup I thought I would never find love again. To be young and dumb is such a wonderful thing. After my first real relationship in high school ended I decided the best solution to curing my endless sorrow was to completely leave town and pursue the life of an artist. So my parents sent me to a summer art program in San Francisco after my junior year. I was eager to learn how to become a real artist and learn how to draw and paint from live models. My only fear was seeing a nude model and my raging teenage hormones getting the best of me and not being able to leave class until every student had left or someone conveniently had a bucket of ice water that I could pour down my pants. But that never happened. Drawing from a model, for me, was completely natural. All I saw was form and I wanted nothing else but to be able to replicate that form in a way that was accurate and unique. I knew after that summer that all I wanted to be was an artist in some form or another and travel the world like the expats I learned about in my freshmen English class.