Crafts have always been her thing. As a child she was always up to her ears in Elmer's glue and googly eyes and felt shapes. For a time, she grew out of it. She listened to music her peers loved and her parents hated - she played the part of 'surly teenager' to a tee. Then university came around and in the time she spent not attending her classes, she fell back into crafting.
Paper crafts, cardboard crafts, crafts with glitter, crafts with empty liquor bottles – you name it, she'd skip a class to make it. Some she enjoyed more than others; there's nothing quite as frustrating as trying to get glitter out of everywhere, for weeks. Eventually she settled on paper crafts, and her myriad pencils and rulers became her constant companions. She bought a rubber, gridded cutting mat and stocked up on x-acto blades with delight.
She started losing her direction, like many twenty-somethings. Her carefully thought out plan for her future was proving to be anything but. So she tried moving back home. She got three steady jobs. She became a regular at a local pub on the weekends. She slept with the bartender at the restaurant she waitressed at. She sank underwater in her hot tub and held her breath until her fingertips started to tingle, staring up at the stars from under the water. She stenciled, spending hours each night with her nose inches from her work, painstakingly cutting each tiny, exacting detail.
When six months had gone by and none of those things had helped her get her life in order at all, she moved to Switzerland. Antsy after only two weeks, she set off on her own. She slept in train stations [only twice] and on stranger's couches. She sunbathed topless on the beaches of Cannes during the film festival. She roared with the engines from the hillsides of Monaco during the Grand Prix. She tore through the mountains of Italy on the back of a motorbike. She stood all alone in the middle of St. Marco's Square in Venice at two in the morning. She stole onto yachts, kissed tall, dark men, and broke bread with rockstars. She stenciled whenever she was gripped by the sense of being completely on her own in the world.
But there's only so far you can run from your problems before they catch up with you. She was working freelance tech for summer festivals in Geneva when hers did. Within a week she was on a plane – not back to her parents but to the city where she went to school. She had a hard time with real life. It was months before she found a job as a waitress at some hoity-toity golf course, and she quit within two weeks. She floated aimlessly through life for a long time, for too long. She lost her best friend for a time; he had disappeared after a fit of jealousy from his girlfriend. Each day became an exercise in avoiding any kind of thoughts about her situations – morning runs began to last two hours or more, afternoons full of busy but ultimately meaningless activities.
And stencils. Dozens of stencils. Each evening was spent drawing and tracing and taping and slicing. It was the only time, perhaps unknowingly, that she let herself admit how hard of a time she was having. There is a certain satisfaction to cleanly slicing through a thick sheet of construction paper or cardstock. Each slice of the blade through the construction paper felt like a release. There is a perfect sound that happens when the blade is pulled through the paper in a long, purposeful way. It's almost like a sigh, an escape. The sound of being let go. She wondered if she herself would make that same kind of noise under the sharp metal, but she doesn't dare try it.
Not today, anyway.
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