My Boat Doesn't Look Like Yours

I don’t NEED a friggin’ paper boat! I said out loud as I crumpled my failed craft project into an angry little ball. I was at a Creative Mornings convo in a group of about a hundred peppy people, all of whom seemed to have no problem following instructions as, while I pretended to look at a Very Important Email on my iPhone, they held aloft little origami boats to show how successful they had been when prompted.

Creative Mornings, I tell myself, is an opportunity for me, a decidedly not-morning person, to get up and out way too early once a month and network with creative people. Notice I did not say “other creative people,” as I do not [yet] meet the criteria. Creative people are able to look at tables full of art supplies with the infinite possibilities they suggest and not hyperventilate. Creative people do not consider a weekend women’s art and yoga retreat to be on a par with a gynecological exam. A lack of imagination and skill coupled with strong feelings of dread are high hurdles to clear. Even so, I have hopes that I, too may one day become A Creative. (There MUST be a creative outlet in which I can feel successful, and be passionate about for longer than four minutes, right?) So I keep trying. It has been a laborious and mostly futile mission so far, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

As an introvert, networking is another thing I have to create an opportunity for myself to do. My aspirational self says, I can go to Creative Mornings and meet new people! In reality, my usual version of networking consists of lingering awkwardly around the coffee and pastries for a few minutes, not making eye contact with anyone. I stalk the perimeter of the room with alleged purpose and then, seeing no one familiar, head for the rows of empty chairs surrounded by hordes of chatty people who are not sitting down because they are, you know, networking as advertised. I eat my bacon and onion focaccia while pretending to attend to Very Urgent Things on my phone and await the start of the program. Today’s theme is “Craft.”

Approaching the last step of the origami boat project, I realized I had made an early erroneous fold that would render success impossible. As the bitter bile of decades of failed creative attempts rose in my throat, I evaluated my options: quit, and admit defeat; or unfold it, go back to Step 1 and start over. Any reasonable creative person would have taken the second option. I might have achieved success the second go-round if I had. And I almost did, until a vision of me still folding amidst my colleagues lifting their boats high in unison appeared and taunted me. So I crushed it in my fist with vigor and said, “I don’t NEED a friggin’ paper boat!” out loud, so that anyone who heard me would know that I was NOT a quitter. They would see through my words and acts that I am NOT a craft reject; instead, I emphatically and totally reject their craft.

Throughout the lecture, tidy little paper boats across the room came to eventual rest on a kneecap or a head or an empty chair. My damp and crumpled ball of paper with previous nautical intentions imparted a silent rebuke and I couldn’t wait to be rid of it. Funny thing, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it in the trash on the way out the door. I’m not proud of it, but there it is.

 

Richmond, VA