Sometimes They Melt

When I stepped off the elevator, for a minute, the halls smelled just like crayons - that waxy wonder of a smell just permeated everything.

I can remember being five and wanting desperately to use the skinny crayons. I felt coddled with the big crayons, and was desperate for those thin crayons, delicate in the clenched fist of a child. And the colors!

The big crayons came in eight varieties and that was it. Black Brown Blue Red Green Yellow Purple Orange. I wanted more. I thought yellow ochre was the ugliest color in the world, and I still wanted to use it.

Silver! There were silver crayons. And periwinkle! And Burnt Sienna! And Violet! And Flesh that didn't look like anyone's actual flesh color.

I liked the crumbliness of the color, the way it smeared just a little, skipped channels, and wavered. I liked the way a quickly-drawn line looked next to a slow considering line. I wore out the black crayons early, and would snear at the pink - which in those days was NOT "tickle me pink" but just pink, or salmon.

At Easter, I'd draw on eggs - names, motifs, pictures - with crayons and then dip them in dyes, or boiled onion skins, or boiled grass.

I can remember drawing an elaborate picture of Nancy Drew with crayons, and lots of cats. I drew trees and houses and hills, and I drew people. Even after my father got me pastels and really good colored pencils and paints, I would keep going back to the crayons.

Everything about the crayons were alluring - the bright waxy colors, the occasionally offbeat names (I asked my mother once what Sienna was, and she told me a town in Italy and a town in New York. It made no sense to me why these towns would be that color.), the waxy smell that drifts up, the way they melt into a stiff puddle of muddy color when left in the sun.

In a weird twist of life, shortly after my lifepath got shifted from the technical side of the internet to the so-called creative/producer/director side of the fold, I was gifted with a really nice 64 color box by my boss, and series of utterly charming and remarkably well done pictures by his daughters. It was a sign that I was on the right path.


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