Aspiration is a Long Way from Talent

My artistic talents peaked in first grade and never improved. That school year, I won my one, and only, award for them—and decades later I doubt doing better, if as well, as the ribbon-winner that is the Featured Image. I vaguely remember making this drawing, with the teacher looking over my shoulder either to offer praise or suggestions; perhaps both.

The next clear recollection is my mom talking on the party line to see who would win, my anticipation, and both our excitement at the news. Gosh, I felt so proud. The next day, the second-grade winner and I basked in the limelight and awaited our prize. What would it be? Speculation killed me. Then, with modest fanfare, the teacher presented each of us with a proper drawing pad and black marker. I was crushed. How boring.

Over the years, I wondered whatever happened to my masterpiece. Turns out that my maternal grandmother kept the artwork, which mom inherited when Grammy departed for the great beyond. Later, mom sent me memorabilia and precious photos, and the prize-winner was part of the stash. Using iPhone 7 Plus, I shot the thing on the day she passed away. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/30 sec, 4mm; 5:16 p.m. PDT, Aug. 5, 2017.

I love to draw. In elementary school, I would waste reams of paper making action comic strips in real time—receiving some chastising from teachers and teasing from schoolmates for mouthing sound effects (like explosions). But aspiration is a long way from talent. My characters never evolved beyond stick figures. An artist I could never be.