I Miss Drawing

It’s been snowing a lot, making it difficult to do anything outside. Work hasn’t been giving me many hours lately, either. Which on the one hand is great because I’ve been able to do a lot more writing and reading, but on the other hand is leaving me with little money to put away. And because I have a few large payments coming up in a few months (not to mention I can’t find a better job around here), I’ve been freaking out a little. Freaking out leads to self-doubt, which leads to our familiar friend depression. Winter’s been hitting me straight in the feels, and I can’t wait for spring.

So with this extra free time, being stuck indoors, and getting lost in my thoughts, I’ve also been very nostalgic. And if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know I can really get stuck living in memories. Lately I’ve been thinking about my childhood, in particular. I keep thinking about the things me and my best friend next door used to do together. There were a lot of video games, so I’ve found myself revisiting some of the ones we used to play, like the Donkey Kong Country series and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. 

With Sonic Adventure 2: Battle in particular, I kept thinking about how much I used to like video game art. My best friend and I would play games, and then we’d take some sketch pads, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, erasers, and whatever into the big guest room in his house, drop everything on the floor, and just draw. For hours. Well, maybe not huge chunks of hours. Childhood mindsets aren’t great at interpreting lengths of time accurately. But we drew a lot, that much is true.

We took our video game instruction manuals and strategy guides and looked through them for cool artwork to draw from. And when the Internet became more relevant, we’d print pictures of more art to draw from (our parents didn’t like this). I mentioned in a previous post how some of my strongest memories involved video games, and now I’m thinking maybe one of the reasons for that is because I spent so much time looking at the art and copying every detail onto paper.

This wasn’t just something I did as a kid, either. When I was turning into a *lovable* teenager, I drew during class a lot, too. I still have some of the drawings I did on notebook paper, whether they were video game characters or not. And for whatever reason, it really makes me happy to see some of those old drawings surrounded by notes about subjects I never really cared about. Hell, I still have my binder from 8th grade algebra. It’s falling apart, but I drew Spongebob, Sonic, and Dragonball Z characters on the cover and never wanted to throw it away.

Man, I miss drawing! I used to draw fairly regularly throughout my early college days, too. In fact, I got pretty good, better than I ever was as a kid or teenager. So what happened?

I guess it probably started out during my first semester of college. I took art and interior design classes, so I was drawing all the time. I got up at 5 every morning to draw, and I was usually still working on an assignment before I went to bed (my first semester of college was surprisingly one of my busiest ones). While I ended up hating my art class (and my professor, he was kind of a snob), I did learn one crucial thing: if you’re going to do something for a living, make sure you love it. While I loved art and drawing under my own terms, it was really obvious I didn’t have the patience or interest to make a career out of it.

After that semester, I still sketched and drew here and there, but I started focusing more on my writing once I transferred into my main college. In the end that worked out; I found myself to have a much deeper appreciation for writing than I did with art, and I actually want to do something with my writing.

Although I don’t draw that often anymore, drawing and those memories are still very much a big part of me. I’ve always liked cartoons and video game art, and sometimes I still just browse through my old strategy guides or through Google’s image search, hoping to spark an inspiration to pick up a pencil and marker again. And last week I had this really strong urge to draw something from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, so I grabbed my sketch pad and drew this:

Skull Kid

God, it felt so good to draw on paper with a pencil and marker again! Most of the art I’ve done in the past year has been digital, but this was just so satisfying! I loved it, I loved drawing again! Man, I miss it. When I’m not feeling great, and when writing’s not working for me, and when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ve got to remember to try drawing more.

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Snow

I think I hate snow. I don’t like hearing that we’re going to get heavy snow. I don’t like my commute time doubled. I don’t like looking at the muddy mess leftover after the initial snowfall. I don’t like slipping on my driveway. I don’t like when my car decides to lose control and I have to play a dangerous game of “get the car back in the lane it’s supposed to be in.” But now I’m looking outside my window, snow falling, slowly piling up on the fence, the patio, the grill, and everything else in the backyard, and I’m thinking perhaps I’m too hard on it, knowing well enough that tomorrow I’m going to hate it again.

Oh, snow. We have such a toxic relationship together. What happened?

I have pretty fond memories of snow from my childhood. My best friend lived next door, and every time it snowed (and if school was cancelled), we’d be out there playing in it. I know, I know. Pretty original story, right? But to be fair, most childhood memories of snow are about the same thing. We’d bundle up in a bunch of clothes and jackets and it was hard to move around in, and then we’d just go out and fling ourselves around the snow like dogs. It felt really nice, to have this weird snow thing just pepper our bodies throughout the day, and we wanted to enjoy it because who knew when it would come around again?

We’d pretend we were characters from video games or cartoons. Well, we did that a lot when we played outside anyway, but this time it was different because it was the snow version. And there was just something about how the snow blanketed the entire neighborhood that made it seem like we had a brand new, blank canvas to play on. We explored more, we stayed outside longer, and we played with the landscape. We tried making snowmen. Sometimes it worked out. It was a little rare to find snow that packed well enough. But we had fun doing it. Sometimes we tried making characters out of snow. That didn’t work out as well. We tried building igloos, too. Probably more than snowmen. I think we wanted to try igloos more because they stumped us. We knew what the looked like, but when we tried building them they just seemed like a structure that defied nature. Why did they keep collapsing??? Some of them just turned into snow forts or bunkers. Which was fine. I don’t know, there was something about being a kid and wanting to be cradled by snow. It sounds so claustrophobic now, but there was something comforting about being in a small area surrounded by snow.

And after a day of playing in the snow, we would either get called in by our mothers or decide we were too cold and wanted to warm up inside. And there would usually be hot chocolate. And it would be made with milk, because you can’t get away with making it with hot water on a snow day, you need to use hot milk for that special snow day hot chocolate flavor. Sometimes there’d be marshmallows. It didn’t really matter, though, because we were just in from the cold and had something really warm and delicious in our bellies. And then we’d play video games.

To be fair, we played video games a lot as kids. But I don’t know, there was something special about playing video games on a snow day. Snow days were like extra weekend days because we usually had all our homework done the night before, so we could just play all day with no real consequence. And for our school, if we got a snow day, the next day was most likely a snow day, too. At the very least, a delayed opening. So we didn’t have to worry about getting up early, we could just stay at each other’s houses for much longer than we normally could. We were only next door, after all. So we just played video games for the rest of the day, but the best part was we were still looking outside our windows the entire time, so it was like playing video games in the snow. And I don’t know, something about that was just kind of magical. Like, I’m trying to recall memories of snow and the strongest ones include staying inside playing video games, but for some reason I’m still remembering the snow. That kind of magical.

What happened, snow? Did I just become a cynical adult? Does the bad just outweigh the good? Back then we made such great memories. What do we have now? I drive 15 mph on unpaved back roads to get to work. Work doesn’t usually get snow days unless it’s really bad. Even when I was in college, snow days were rare. And I had a 50 mile commute, too. So even if it snowed so much I couldn’t open the front door, it didn’t matter because that didn’t necessarily mean it snowed that much at my school. It may not have even snowed at all. And college professors don’t tend to excuse absences for dangerous driving conditions.

I know, it sounds like whining. Maybe we tend to hate the snow after a while because we can’t play in it anymore. It doesn’t mean much if we still have to go to work. We need to get up earlier and clean our cars off and shovel our driveways and drive slower just to get there on time. The world doesn’t stop anymore when it snows. It’s far less beautiful that way. All snow does is create extra obstacles.

And yet…

There’s nothing like seeing the first snow of the season. Seeing a neighborhood blanketed by it, before anyone makes footprints or tire tracks, is stunning. Holding a handful of snow still feels cool, and good. Bring it close and you can see the light bounce off the tiny crystals. And call me a sappy romantic, but the idea of walking through a small flurry with someone you like makes me warmer than that delicious, made-with-milk hot chocolate ever did.

Oh, snow. You’re too much like an unhealthy relationship I just can’t seem to break away from.