I had to destroy the painting. It had their names on it. I had to destroy the painting.
I had to destroy the painting because sometimes anger is childish. I had to destroy the painting because it’s not like I was even proud of it. It had spooky German writing and a broken heart and a reference to man’s first flight; I had to destroy the painting.
By destroy, I mean repurpose. By destroy, I mean efface. By destroy, I mean block out, taking it out of its hiding hole and smearing it with more paint. I had to destroy the painting because it didn’t make me proud.
I never want to be old. Most old people are just lists of the bad things that have happened to them, litanies of betrayal and infirmity and missed opportunity. I did not want to look back at this painting from my youth and decide this was the moment I started growing old; I had to destroy the painting.
The painting would not go quietly. Over the past decade or so the dark colors and bold strokes had settled firmly into the canvas, streaky but unmoving, improvisational but finished. My smeary black fingerprints go last, hidden under brilliant stabs of peony pink. The fingerprints were tenacious, but they, too, had to be destroyed.
Someday someone might say, he destroyed that painting which was part of his youth. What a loss. How anachronistic. But that person would mostly likely be me, and I don’t feel like I will end up saying that.
Sometimes you paint a record of the afternoon you were a real jerk.