I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
I found my journal from my first trip to Italy when I was 21. The trip was led by one of the most brilliant professors I’ve ever had, Dr. Vernon Minor. We spent 3 weeks in Florence and 3 weeks in Rome, doing nothing but roaming ancient cobblestone streets, studying history, architecture, sculpture, painting…all things art that came out of the Renaissance and Baroque period.
As I was revisiting the streets of Rome, I came across this metaphor of sorts I wrote. I was struck with how similar I am to that younger very sensitive, very lost romantic.
I also realized how much I’ve changed. I’m still all of those things, which don’t always serve me. But I’m also confident and courageous enough to share the other parts of me that aren’t perfect. Even after falling to pieces, I still managed to conjure up the strength to pick them back up and rebuild my work in progress.
I’m far from perfect. There are many cracks that cannot be fixed or smoothed over. But perfect doesn’t interest me anymore. I find so much more beauty in the scars that remain.
So here is a little window into the mind of a very young, very naive, very love struck 21-year old version of me.
July 3, 1997
Imagine you were in the shoes of a sculptor. No one famous or known for her talent. But she’s passionate, determined to perfect her craft. She has the necessary materials, maybe not of the finest quality, but she makes due.
She begins to sculpt, spending what feels like a lifetime working on her piece. She makes sacrifices and passing countless hours alone, struggling to perfect what she hopes to be her masterpiece.
Finally, she stands back to study it. It’s not perfect, by any means. But she finally sees beauty in its impefection.
She wants to find someone to share it with, so she switches her focus, searching for that perfect person. She’s impatient. Hasty.
And suddenly, there he is. He’s all there is. Now, it’s only his opinion that matters.
She unveils her piece and waits for his response, hardly able to breathe as he studies her. But she knows, she can see it when she looks at him. He sees her.
He loves her down to the smallest detail- her feet, her hands, her smile, her essence. He wants to experience her, every part of her. He stands in awe, unable to take his eyes off her.
And then he sees it. A tiny imperfection, and then another. He’s disappointed, she can tell. He thought she was perfect…he wants her to be perfect.
She grabs her tools and tries to fix them. Because now, it’s only his opinion that matters.
He leaves her alone to finish her work. She’s exhilerated, thoughts of him consuming her. She keeps looking at the door, waiting for him to come back. He doesn’t. Anxious, distracted, she goes too deep. A crack spreads across the surface. She grabs her chissel, frantically trying to fix her. But she only makes it worse. She feels the crack go deeper, wider, until she completely falls apart.
This can’t be happening. Minutes ago, he was here. It was perfect.
Now everything is shattered.
The thought of starting over again is unbearable. Can she even be fixed? Or is she damaged beyond repair?
And even if she could actually restore her to her original beauty, how could she ever trust someone to get close to her again? If no one sees her, is it worth existing?
She hates him for what he’s done, then feels terrible for hating him. She knows his intentions were good. Weren’t they? He didn’t know what he did was going to hurt her…did he?
She tries to convince herself he truly did love her. He just wanted her to be perfect.
But it doesn’t work. She hates him, because he did this. Because she let him.
Because he left her.
Because she’s shattered, with no one there to help pick up the pieces.