Man alive! Yesterday was a crazy, spectacular day. Suzi returned to finish painting the bathroom. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to see her, let alone see what she would come up with. She advised her husband, Adam, that she would be painting something simple and that it shouldn’t take too long. I do not think Suzi knows how to do that, as when she found out that Scott was not arriving until around 4:00 in the afternoon the following day she decided to do something far more complicated.
The story behind the painting in the bathroom is an interesting one. I had a mirror in the bathroom that I had put up, and for quite some time it was there so I could … you know, have a mirror in the house to look in. It seems fairly standard for most restrooms. This was a mirror that my grandmother gave me. This is a mirror I grew up looking into as a young girl when I spent weekends with my grandparents near Alki Beach in West Seattle. Well, one day the frame to this mirror broke and the mirror fell to the ground and landed intact, whereas the frame basically split in two. I held onto the frame and the mirror in the hopes that I might repair it at some point.
This mirror made me both happy and sad when peering into it. I have never really been a petite creature. I have been heavier than most people. Whatever euphemism you want to use, curvy, chunky, voluptuous, rubenesque, pleasantly plump, chubby, “you have such a pretty face” or … you know… fat. Associating this mirror with my grandmother also made me associate some other things with it.
Grandma always made references to my weight in one form or another. As I got older, she would imply that to be successful in life I needed a man to take care of me. I needed a man with gobs of money. Grandma appreciates the finer things, and was quite the foodie. Have I mentioned Grandma is Italian? She’s REALLY Italian. She has always been fairly thin, had a love of anything that was loaded with carbs and rather vocally lamented her belly for as long as I can remember. I spent almost every other weekend with my grandparents until I was about 15.
I have a fairly specific memory of me rollerblading at Alki on the boardwalk. I was about 14 or so, and at that time I was actually pretty thin (at most a size 6, but likely smaller). I remember being very uncomfortable in my skin. I had boobs that were larger than most girls my age (I was sporting a DD) and just all around twitchy about my figure and people looking at it.
To avoid people looking at my figure, I wore a baggy turtleneck. I had a set of three of them in different colors. Grandma was always snapping pictures of me. This day she snapped one of me in motion rollerblading. The wind was blowing and billowing my rather large turtleneck around. Fast forward to Grandma getting the picture back from the pharmacy. I remember her scoffing at it and saying “Well that won’t do” and instantly cutting my silhouette out of it. The problem being it was not my silhouette. She basically trimmed out a Betty Boop figure of me with a waist so small that was humanly impossible. With a satisfied “There, that’s better!” She proceeded to then slap this picture of Not-Kera on the fridge. It remains there to this very day, even after I have advised her that I detest it multiple times.
Grandma also has commented fairly regularly throughout my young adult to adult life that I would be able to land me a man if I was skinny. I mean, what girl doesn’t want to get married to a rich husband and have babies? Even though I have repeatedly stated I have no intent of having children, she disregards that. This is also the same woman who will not take no for an answer when dishing you up seconds and thirds at every holiday gathering. “You can eat more than that! I do not want ANY left overs!”
While Suzi was painting the kitchen cupboards, I commented that I had an idea for the bathroom. After explaining a portion of the above story, I advised that I found I was happier not having a mirror in the bathroom. I told her that at some point I wanted to paint “You are beautiful” on the wall in there. This dated back to a story I read awhile ago.
When Suzi was painting the cupboards, I had to leave for a business class. I did not think about the fact it would be getting really dark in my house while I was gone until I was halfway to class. I felt like a big jerk as I had not left her a work light. When I got home that night, I went to go use the bathroom and noticed that she had started a “You Are Beautiful” picture in there. I just about cried on the spot. I made some sort of ‘squeak’ noise and said something along the lines of “You’re doing the thing!” Suzi laughed and said “Yeah, I ran out of light in the kitchen and I just loved the concept so much that I wanted to work on it… and the bathroom is so well lit…”
I had Suzi here a good portion of the day, and she would not let me steal a peek into what she was doing. I was going a little crazy with anticipation wanting to see what delightful artwork she had in store for me. After seeing the beginning of the picture, I figured it would be some pretty scroll lettering with a little embellishment. She had just spent two days on my kitchen after all.
Needless to say my breath was taken away when I saw the completed piece. She made an almost identical copy of the mirror border that had belonged to the original mirror (in the exact place it used to sit). She also included a phoenix, which is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. In fact I have a phoenix tattoo between my shoulder blades. The background is a gorgeous teal (which my camera did not really do justice) which is my favorite color.
I’m not sure if Suzi is aware how much this moved me so I will tell her here, thank you Suzi! You have made it possible for me to look into that particular mirror and like what I see for the first time in my life. I appreciate that more than words could ever say.