If I were a painter, I would wear a twist of string tied to my ankle long ago by a lover who never promised and left before I ever asked.
I would live and work in an echoing flat with iron floor-to-ceiling windows and colorful but cracked tile in the tiny toilet. The window near the radiator would leak when it rained, and I would put read newspapers there to sop up the wet on the venerable wood floor.
I would paint in oil and listen to music in languages I’d never learned. If I were a painter, my canvases would lean along my brickwork wall in the company of stained cloths, jarred brushes, and my favorite stool— never used but perfect for holding a drafty-nights sweater.
My brass bed would rest in the corner next to a repurposed grammar school desk with stacks of magazines and a ridiculously heavy ashtray shaped like an elephant. My clothes would hang in a small closet by the front door below the extra toilet paper but above my suitcase.
I would always have bread, cheese, and jam if I were a painter. Various splattered overalls, rolled at the ankles, would cover a clean white tank top on my body each day. I would never wear shoes or a bra, but before I left to mingle with the outside world, I would choose between two pairs of well-loved clogs by the door.
If I were a painter, I would paint in abstract: flowers, furniture, streets, and sometimes people, but no faces. I would not be good at faces, so I would put something in front of my people or have them with their backs turned.
I would sell enough to live and travel through my chosen life if I were a painter, but not so much that people would look close or enjoy hurting my feelings.
I would be selfish and live too much in my mind. It would be hard to share a life with me, but he would love me anyway. Enough to walk for the paper and dark coffee every morning, rub my feet on Sundays and tell me about his numbers over breakfast.
Being married to a night-owl painter would sometimes be rough on a gentle sleeper, but it would work, and we’d laugh about the things that made us different.
If I were a painter, I would knot my hair back with a pencil, forget to drink enough water, and eat pastries when I was stuck holding my brush with nothing left to say.
I would carry my stuff in a worn leather bag across my small chest if I were a painter and never talk about my art. Creating would be enough.
That’s all from the laundry room. Midnight snack.