Today’s page in my Cabinet of Curiosities sketchbook ended up with a fly on it. They were still buzzing around when Philippe and I were trying to enjoy the last few nice days on our terrace, so of course I thought, I should doodlewash one. I used to do macro photography and found that close-up versions of these guys were sort of interesting and weird.
Flies typically look like little black annoying blurs, but in close-up they are often quite colorful, if not a bit creepy. Oh well, it’s Halloween month and creepy things are all the rage, so this little giant should fit in perfectly. I really wasn’t sure how to handle the transparency of the wings so I just sort of whisked on some white gouache at the end.
But the real secret is that I have always wished I could actually be a fly on the wall. Perhaps it’s my introverted, living-in-my-head-all-the-time nature, but the idea of being able to watch people from a safe distance or overhear a conversation always fascinated me. That, and the ability to actually fly, which would probably be the coolest thing in the world if I didn’t have a severe fear of heights.
I remember actually trying to fly as a little kid, thinking if I could just flap my arms really fast it might happen. I didn’t expect to soar through the clouds, I wasn’t stupid, but I did think that I might be able to stay afloat for a few extra seconds at least. I would jump and begin frantically flapping only to come down at precisely the same rate of speed as normal jumping. This was disappointing.
My most vivid memory from childhood is actually a dream or daydream. It was so real, that I almost believed it actually happened. I was ascending the short flight of stairs to my bedroom in our split-level home, and tripped. That wasn’t the cool part, I was always a bit clumsy. No, the cool part came when instead of hitting my face on the stairs, I flapped my arms and for just a moment I hovered there… I was actually flying!
I don’t remember what happened next. Most likely I hit my face on the stairs… even my dreams were always irritatingly tinged with reality. To this day, I just remember that brief moment and how great it felt to hover there, even if it was just a couple feet off the floor. Time stopped and I felt such an amazing sense of euphoric accomplishment.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the same feeling as an adult. Perhaps that’s why I remember it so vividly. It’s also likely because I eventually stopped flapping my arms around like an idiot, trying to fly. My kid brain was growing up and starting to realize that I looked ridiculous and worried what other people might say.
I now know it doesn’t matter what people say about you and they’re never likely to tell you how they really feel to your face. It’s probably better that way. But if you ever felt brave enough to discover those secrets, all you’d have to do is ask that fly on the wall.