Sometimes, we need to take a few steps back to understand ourselves.
My imagination was birthed during a time I had only me, myself, and I. Whenever I played with my Bratz dolls I would take the girls out on extravagant shopping sprees in my tiny room that I shared with my older sister. She would periodically tell me to be quiet or force me to go into another room if I ever became too invested in the play time with my dolls. As I grew up, I realized that I wanted to see my imagination come into fruition. Therefore, I trained myself to draw cartoons because I enjoy the freeness of the art, the beautifully creative styles one can produce, how the dimensions can be manipulated, and hope to see my drawings come to life one day. I always drew many things that interest me like trees, cars, or random household items. Yet, someone special had come along to test my artistry, and it was a struggle I will never forget. I wished I had told them that I had a crush on them sooner too, but things happen, I guess.
Step One: Draw a circle.
In the sixth grade, I used to draw googly eyeballs at the back of my marble notebook, adding silly lashes, shading in the pupils for some color, and felt proud of my finished work when I placed my pencil on the desk. Sometimes during lunch, kids would come up to me to ask me to draw something random for them, which could have either been a can of soda, a pop tart, or one time a girl asked me to draw her earlobe. It was a weird time, but it was like being a piano player who knew all of the easy songs and sounded amazing every time they played. Each drawing I did felt like a new chord of the same song. I know I was not Picasso, but I knew enough that I could play around with the form. One day, I was in the courtyard playing with my friends before we had to line up to go to our first class. Someone with a soft touch tapped my shoulder a few times until I turned around. It was Gordon! My heart was pounding a million times per second and I could not control my spaghetti movements. I stood goofy with one of my legs in front of the other trying to hold up my posture to conceal my nervousness and waited for him to speak. With a heartwarming smile he said “Can you draw a picture of me? I heard you drew pretty good.” Gordon thought I was good? I shyly smiled at him and agreed to do the drawing.
Before we lined up for class, Gordon gave me his Facebook so that I could browse through his gallery for inspiration. After that, we shook hands like it was a professional business deal. During my classes, I kept thinking about drawing him. Should I add 100 hearts around him? That’s too much, maybe one heart is enough. There was only one thought that kept interrupting my romantic fantasy. I never drew someone before. Yes, I did draw, but it was only cartoons of objects where worrying about specificities did not matter. I had no idea about drawing people in art because I only restricted myself to drawing random objects. That evening, my brain was doing continuous backflips when I sat in my room gazing at a blank sheet of paper, hoping that the longer I stare at it something would appear. Two hours passed. Four hours passed. It was time for bed. I put the blank sheet of paper into my book bag along with my pencil, zipped it up, and climbed into my bed imagining this was all a dream.
Thank god, it was the weekend. I decided to buckle down, toss my homework to the side, and looked on YouTube for tutorials on how to draw a person in cartoon form. I saw a plethora of videos for beginners and the one that caught my attention was a brunette woman, probably in her 40s, wearing a bright pink sweater with hearts on it, and she looked to be ecstatic about her profession. I would be happy too if YouTube paid me for what I love to do. She did a nearly five-minute intro promoting a product that I skipped without hesitation. With a smile always on her face and in a low tone she said “Start with a circle.” Initially, I thought this was going to be easy because it’s a circle, but after I tried, I kept drawing ovals, circles with dents, circles that has been through a war, circles that has been attacked by pigeons, and circles that should have stayed in the grave.
Step Two: Draw a torso.
I decided to calm my nerves with Fruit snacks, popping one fruit gummy at a time into my mouth, staring at another blank sheet of paper on the table. I popped one more fruit gummy into my mouth, picked up my pencil, and drew a circle. It looked great! I continued to watch the YouTube tutorial about drawing the head shapes of a person and the next step was a torso. The first torso I drew was very nice, but the measurement was too large for the size of the head. The next attempt the torso was too little almost resembling the body of a stick figure. Then, on my last attempt my torso drawing came out decently enough. My mom came in the dining room to tell me that dinner was ready. I left my mini art station to grab my plate, find a nice spot on the floor in the living room, and watched my favorite show Totally Spies.
The sunlight from outside had slowly begun to set taking the shadows of the world with it. I did not feel the urge to draw anymore, so I decided to leave my belongings there, and return to it the next day. Morning came and I was ready to finally complete my practice of drawing a body. Eagerly, I pulled up the same YouTube video on my laptop, skipping adds, scrubbing the little red dot along the bar of the video, and sometimes rewinding parts that I missed. The basics was finally down, I rewarded myself with eating another mini fruit snack pack, and it was time to add some details. Since, I was drawing the image of Gordon, I went onto Facebook browsing through his photos. He had a lot of anime photos, landscape photos of nature, and photos of his family without him. Suddenly, I stumbled upon a picture that Gordon was tagged in by a close relative, clicked the photo to enlarge it, and he was dressed in school uniform at Chuckie Cheese’s. I popped the last fruit gummy into my mouth, cracked each knuckle on my fingers, and started to draw.
Step Three: Try again.
The tears from my eyes designed the paper in polka dots. I hated it! I hate it! I hated it! My drawing of Gordon did not resemble him. The eyes were the size of jelly beans, the lips were razor sharp thin, his head could have been the same size of a melon, and his body looked like a child stuck different pieces of doll limbs together. I crumpled the paper with both of my hands, making sure all of my anger transferred through the ruffles, and I tossed it to the floor hoping to never see it again. If Gordon would have seen what I drew of him, I would be the butt of everyone’s joke at my school. I could hear the other kids saying “She can’t even draw a circle!” or “My dog could do better!” or “What’s the point of drawing if you can’t even draw a person?” or “You should give it up.” I laid in my bed that night and cried myself to sleep.
The weekend flew by and it was time for school again. I was in the courtyard being less active with my friends than I was the previous week. A security guard blew the whistle and all of the students ran towards the white marked lines on the ground to wait for their teachers. I stood in the back of the line with my hoodie on my head looking nowhere else but in front of me hoping I would not get spotted by Gordon. “Ashley! Ashley!” I heard a girl say from behind me, so I turned around and it was my friend, but what startled me the most was that Gordon stood next to her. I assume he asked her to get my attention but I already knew what he wanted so I prepared myself mentally for the interaction.
“Hey Gordon.” I said nonchalantly pushing my hoodie off of my head slowly. Gordon licked his lips, walked a little closer to me, forcing my friend to move back quite a bit, but I do not think she noticed the picture being formed here, and with a tilt in his head he said “Hey, wassup.” I was perplexed. I did not know how to bring up the drawing without sounding like I am a complete failure. “So, how’s the drawing coming along?” Oh, he said it, oh I am I in big trouble. “It’s coming along great, um, a few little erasures…shading, the hair been giving me trouble - you got a lot of hair! Um, it’ll done by Friday.” I scratched my neck nervously, smiling at him, knowing he probably sees through my dishonest behavior. “Cool.” We shook hands again but this time it was not a professional feel, but a more relaxed, quite loose handshake. He knew I was bluffing.
After school, I went home to try to draw him again. I wanted to give up ever since I started the challenge, but something inside of me pushed me to try again. If I wanted to be a cartoonist, then these are the trials and tribulations I must go through in order to improve my skills. I’m not going to learn overnight. I completed my homework first, ate a few Nature Valley Granola bars, and took out some sheets of paper and a pencil. I reminded myself that it was okay to make mistakes, and if I ever am unsatisfied with the drawing I will try again. I took the laptop from my room, placed it on the table, pulled up a YouTube tutorial but not of the same brunette woman. I found another video, it was a guy who talked extremely formal off screen, and only his white pale hands showed onscreen. He took this seriously. I pressed the spacebar on the keyboard and the video played. I watched. I learned.
Step Four: Present.
It was dress down Friday and I rummaged through my coin jar to find three dollars to pay one of the faculty members at the school. My outfit was simple. I had on a red plaid shirt, black jeans, and red All Stars converse. After that, I grabbed my bookbag, checked to see if I had everything that I needed, and headed off to the school. Fridays was usually the day most students would come to school, since it was always pizza Friday, and we could wear casual clothes. This would also be the day that some kids would dress to impress for their crushes, confess their love, and the pair would live happily ever after like in the movies. I met up with my friends and we talked about looking forward to the weekend because school sucked, chatted about who did what in school, and complimented each other’s outfits. I told them about my struggle drawing Gordon and they teased me about it since they knew I had a little crush on him. Before I could tell them to be quiet one of them shouted “He’s coming!” Immediately, my face became a tomato, and I turned around to wave at him. He looks so cute!
Gordon approached me with a certain sway to him. He was wearing an ash grey hoodie, black button down, denim jeans, and all black All Stars converse. We greeted each other as we normally did, I took out the drawing of him that I think came out to be very nice, and handed it to him like a freshly crisped diploma. Gordon stared at it for a few moments, which I guessed he was trying to find all of the resemblance in the picture to himself. A huge smile appeared, brightening his face, and pushed up his cheeks. He said thank you to me and I took out my hand for our usual handshake. My friends were not too far off because I heard them giggling and laughing from behind. Gordon did not give me a handshake, but a warm, firm hug that parents do when their kids is going off to college. After that, the security guard blew the whistle, and we proceeded to our designated lines. As I went into one direction, Gordon had followed me, and we walked together to our lines.
I went home that day feeling ecstatic. The drawing came out amazing, Gordon liked the picture, and I finally did not have to stress anymore. Life was good. I took off my outside clothes, slipped on some pajamas, and went straight to my laptop to watch videos. I heard a loud popcorn pop sound notification from my Facebook. I clicked on the tab and it was a message from Gordon. I opened the message and it went sort of like this:
Gordon Thomas: Wassup.
Ashley Bourne: Hey!
Gordon Thomas: Typing…
Gordon Thomas: I really liked the drawing. I showed my mom. She said you’re mad good.
Ashley Bourne: Lol, tell her I said thank you!
Gordon Thomas: No prob. So, what made u want 2 draw?
Ashley Bourne: Typing…
Ashley Bourne: I watched a lot of cartoons n’ I want 2 be a cartoonist.
Gordon Thomas: Typing…
Gordon Thomas: Dope. Ya’ kno what surprised me ‘bout the drawing was the lil’ details you made. I didn’t think u would catch that. The ponytail, my stripe sweater…yeah lol. *Thumbs up*
Ashley Bourne: I have a good eye! *Wink face*
Gordon Thomas: Yeah. *Wink face*
Ashley Bourne: Typing…
Gordon Thomas: So, like, you want ya’ own cartoon show or sumthin’?
Ashley Bourne: Typing…
Ashley Bourne: Um, I haven’t thought ‘bout that, but that would be dope. *Smiley face*
Gordon Thomas: Yeah, you should get into that. Be like a voice actor, writer or sumthin’.
Ashley Bourne: Me acting? Idk ‘bout that but writing stories seems more of my thing.
Gordon Thomas: I think you got it. Should really look into it.
Ashley Bourne: I’ll think ‘bout it. *Smiley face*
Gordon Thomas: Cool. *Smiley face*
Ashley Bourne: Typing…
Gordon Thomas: Typing…
Ashley Bourne: I gotta go catch up on some homework. See at school! *Wave hand* *Smiley face* *Wink face* *Heart*
Gordon Thomas: Typing…
Step Five: See you soon.
Gordon was typing for a while and then the bubble disappeared. He had sent instead “See you soon!” with a smiley face at the end. To this day, I still wondered what he was typing before the bubble disappeared. It seemed like he wanted to say more but I did not want to push it by asking him and I felt quite embarrassed when I added the heart. After that, we did not speak as much in school because of our conflicting class schedules, but we always made sure to say hello in passing. He soon deactivated his Facebook account so there was no chance of hitting him up again. Winter break was around the corner, classrooms were filled with excited kids telling each other where their families was going for vacation, and I was chatting with my friends about me sending a heart at the end of my message to Gordon. They giggled at my tomato face, nudging my arms playfully, and vocalizing the sounds of immature ghost children.
The bell rung, students dashed through the hallways to exit the school, some kids would cluster in corners of the hallway making it tight to pass through, and at the end of the hallway I saw Gordon. “Go say that you like him!” One of my friends said, pushing my back with both of her hands as if she was pushing me off of a cliff. I walked ahead of the girls clutching both straps of my bookbag, moving stealthily between clusters of children. There was Gordon zipping up his black jacket, giving fist pounds to his friends, and kept trying to find the right spot to place the burgundy beanie on his head. Then, a swarm of students come from the gymnasium, loud and proud, and the hallways become filled with black coats, colorful hats, and the sounds of squeaky sounds from boots fill the air. Gordon disappeared into the crowd and I could not tell him how I truly felt.