Friday, October 09, 2009
The smell of rubber cement
(You can now listen to this entry, with an explanatory preface.)
To me, there is a repleteness of familiarity in all these things. Though I don't know how to use these art supplies and therefore don't feel right buying them, they seem to give off an air of intimacy. Because, of course, they are home.
When I look over the watercolors, when I make beautiful swooshes of color with the pastels, when I smell rubber cement, I am remembering being ten years old and lying on the floor next to my daddy's drawing board as he worked on another project for a client. I remember playing with bits of his Letraset letters, rubbing them off to make little letter-people on the paper. I remember covertly taking his Prismacolor markers (which I was not supposed to touch) out of their little carousel and carefully drawing my name. (Dad always made a sharp distinction between writing, which was just scribing down words, and calligraphy, which was drawing them.) And I remember always there was rubber cement: we used it to tack together school projects, make puppet show theaters and other creative objects, or sometimes we'd just paint it on our hands and roll it into squishy little rubber ball boogers as it dried. Rubber cement was a Dad smell, just like Old Spice and shaving cream on Sundays, or sweat and earth if he was working in the garden, or the tinny green smell of the canned asparagus that he loved (usually a birthday treat).
I love art supplies -- especially rubber cement -- because while I am pointlessly lingering over them, my mind is back in a time when Santa's existence was real and unquestioned, when my biggest decision of the day was what style of kite I should buy, when the Concord Public Library was full of unexplored wonders, when I had both a mom and a dad, when it seemed the structure of my life would always be as it was then. The smell of rubber cement is the ghost of home.