The market hummed with activity that morning. A lone piece of gravel crunched under my foot but I didn’t notice. My senses were too busy with the scent of sugar-fried dough, the pleas of vendors, the vats of boiling grease, the kind warmth of my beloved Mexican sun. I bought a small bag of strawberries and let their juices melt into my tongue, my naughty smile bringing curious stares. Shoulders bumped me. Voices sang out deals. Sweat beaded up in the small of my back and the strawberries kept me centered. In the juice of my hungry spirit.
I wandered past the plant lady, the silver man, the baskets, the glassware, the jewelry and the pottery. I touched some wooden bowls, some leather belts, a wreath made of corn husks, and a few purses made of oil cloth. My sandaled feet were content, or so I thought. And yet I never stopped walking for very long—tasting another strawberry here, admiring a new craft there, wandering somewhere I hadn’t yet known.
His paintings were hidden. They weren’t on the main path. I looked over at a table of trinkets and when I looked up to smile at the vendor, a wash of color over his shoulder caught my eye. I propped my sunglasses atop my head, swallowed my last bit of strawberry and looked again. And like a magnet, found my way…closer, closer, closer still…
‘Hallo’, he said with foreign sweetness.
‘Hello’, I returned, my eyes sparkling.
He watched as I stared. I tried not to, really I did, but I couldn’t stop. The colors, they danced. The shapes, they sang. And the feelings that suddenly awakened in me…wow...who was the painter? I needed to know. I looked up and into his eyes, the secret of every man’s soul.
I offered him a strawberry.
He told me of the little green men who lived under his house. Of the places they took him when he dreamed. He told me of the blues in the lakes and the forests, of the deep purples in hidden hearts, of the yellows and the oranges and the reds and the turquoises, his paint splotched fingers talking in the air, his eyebrows arching and bending like frantic fuzzy worms. He showed me what the paintings said, where their songs belonged and why all the other people that day walked by, every one, unable to see. My heart raced. My fingers tingled. And I think the eyes of my heart, they must’ve grown.
‘That one. You must take it home. It belongs to you.’ He was so sure, I almost felt naked, revealed. How did he know?
I gave him a nervous laugh. ‘I wish I could. Maybe one day. It’s beautiful.’ An original painting? Me? I spent my weekly budget on my bag of strawberries. (Ok, practically.) There was no way I could afford his work. No way.
‘You see it. It sees you. It belongs to you.’
I gave him a double take. My skin itched. I looked over at the painting again. ‘I don’t have enough.’
‘Yes you do.’ His voice was calm, kind.
‘Look,’ I opened my wallet. ‘I have 500 pesos (less than $50) and I need at least 100 for gas to get home. That’s not enough.’
But he didn’t hesitate, he just reached down, picked up the painting and handed it me. ‘400 pesos, then. I told you, it belongs to you’
* * *
What do you want to walk toward? And why then, do you walk away? What would happen if you lost yourSelf in the sweetness of the strawberry and went for it, let your itchings show you the way? Might magic happen? I dare you. I dare you to try it, to let yourSelf see....