But she did have insanely gorgeous eyes. They were a rich green, deep like the tops of a boreal forest in the springtime. When she talked back to me, refused to give in, I’d been too thrown off to realize she also had a set of beautifully plump lips. What if Joe was right? What if the right girl really was right around the corner? Or in this case, just down the hall. But I shook my head at the possibility. Sure, she was a pretty little thing. She’d piqued my interested. But that was about it.
“You know me,” I sighed. “Work is the only love I need.”
“That’s sad, dude.”
“You’re one to talk. You live in your garage.”
“Not by choice. My apartments literally above it.”
“You’re just proving my point.”
Joe rolled his eyes, but dropped the subject altogether.
Procrastination and I had a very love-hate relationship. Today was such a beautiful day that all I wanted to do was go outside to the local park and explore. Maybe I could find a nice quiet corner by the man-made lake, surrounded on all sides by tall trees and warm sunlight, and spend the day sketching away as I watched people pass me by. But I unfortunately knew better than to put off unpacking any longer. The mess of boxes I’d left to litter the apartment was starting to affect how I moved around. When I stubbed my big toe on the heavy box in the living room for the umpteenth time that morning, I knew I had to admit defeat and get to work putting everything away.
I’d left in such a rush that there really hadn’t been any time to properly label anything –a small fact that was now proving to be an entirely awful inconvenience. I opened box after box, starting in the bedroom. As far as organizational skills went, I had none, and opted for dumping several boxes and suitcases worth of clothes onto the unmade bed. I convinced myself that if my mattress was absolutely covered in clothing, I’d be left with no choice but to fold everything to tuck away before the end of the night. It was a trick that I picked up from some self-proclaimed lifestyle guru on YouTube with a couple thousand subscribers.
“Take that, procrastination!” I cheered aloud to myself, even though the pile of untidy fabrics was nothing but daunting.
Somehow, the apartment started to feel more like home. Moving from room to room, emptying box after box, things took shape. I decorated the plain white walls with family photographs and various art pieces I’d collected over time. The bookshelf I put together the night before in the living room was now full of beautiful, colorful books of a variety of genres. The heavier texts –mostly coffee table reads– sat on the bottom shelf to keep the rickety structure as steady as possible. My small collection of well-read fiction sat on the top, and the middle shelf was almost completely occupied with sketchbooks I’d kept over the years arranged in chronological order. For the fun of it, I picked up the left-most book and flipped through its contents.
I liked to keep my old sketchbooks. It was always nice to look back and see how much I’d improved. The very first in my massive collection had been gifted to me on my twelfth birthday by my middle school art teacher. Judging by the colorful cartoon characters I’d scribbled on the ink-stained pages, I was really into Japanese anime back then. My earlier drawing exercises were hesitant, careful. Lines were shaky, and there was evidence of excessive erasing. Characters that I recreated always stood in a pose that hid their hands behind their backs simply because I didn’t know how to draw proper anatomy at the time. Even to this day, hands were a part of the human body that were weirdly difficult to capture.
But as I continued to browse through the book, a clear change in artistic style started to take place. The more I practiced, the bolder my art became. Thicker lines and finer details became more apparent. Pages became unapologetically messy, experimental. My taste in art started to shift away from duplication and became more stylized, a purer reflection of my inner thoughts and feelings in bold colors and harsh shapes. I chuckled quietly to myself, proud of how far I’d come.
Let’s face it, Daliah. A monkey could do what you do and make millions.
I frowned at Todd’s harsh comment, the memory popping up from out of nowhere. I shook my head, as though the action would clear my mind. Today was a good day. Todd was the last thing I wanted to think about. I replaced the sketchbook back on the shelf and got back to work, ignoring the bitterness the memory of our fight left on my tongue.