“STRANGE!” my sister texted back, when I told her about Saturday. Geesh! Okay, it probably WAS a bit strange for me. Our community’s Society of Fine Arts held a “Chalk-a-thon” on Washington Park sidewalks. For two hours, participants draw on the concrete. The challenge which surfaced was the fact that I had not given my design any thought prior to the contest kick-off. What I had given a lot of thought was, “What should I wear?” To a chalk-a-thon? Yes, because the event was held on THE warmest weekend of the summer and I don’t like to sweat. It makes me cranky. Especially, when sweat drips in my eyes.

The supply list included gardening knee pads and a sunhat. I loaded my back pack with bottled water, 3 ice packs, towel and extra thick KOTEX sanitary pads. KOTEX? Yes, I did. Why? Have you ever shopped for gardening knee pads in August? Impossible. KOTEX was the best option I could muster up. There are worse things, I suppose,such as, Carefree MiniPads. Those would give boney knees no relief at all. The adhesive strip allowed me to position the pads precisely on the Patella. My sidewalk neighbor, Julie, agreed to share a box of chalk, but she passed on the KOTEX. I had quite an extensive supply, because, you can’t buy just one or two pads. Actually, I could’ve KOTEXed about 9 sets of knees! The contest began. Except I had no idea what to draw.

I stared at the concrete. Ideas weren’t exactly bubbling out of my head. Contestants finished impressive works of art as I pondered. My thoughts turned to swimming, so I began a beach scene on the concrete. The rough, bumpy concrete. How the other people could draw recognizable objects was puzzling. Timidly, I attempted sand, ocean, sky, sailboat, beach ball, bucket, shovel (which looked like a fly swatter); my palm tree resembled a Blue Spruce. I blew on the mistake; most of the sand blew away with the tree, right onto Julie’s chalk art. Oops. Why did I think I could do this? My amateurish babe-on-beach-towel was embarrassing. Facial detailing with jumbo chalk is about as precise as drawing with a bratwurst.

Even with all my present feelings of inadequacy, I began to settle in to the therapeutic state of drawing. The music provided was uplifting, relaxing, motivating and the eclectic group of people I’d met was refreshing. The activities drew observers to the park. Judges were introduced. An announcement echoed, “TEN MINUTES REMAINING!” A funny thing happened. I did not want the time to end. The public could vote by putting a safety pin in a cup by the drawing. And in the presence of many accomplished artists –amateur and professional- I GOT ONE VOTE! I thought it might be a joke, but thanked the young man anyway.

Understand that I didn’t participate because of my artistic ability. (I have very little.) It just sounded fun. And different. So different that I almost was a no-show that day. It’s hard to do different things and break out of the ordinary. Which is the very reason we should. Now I’m wondering what other different experiences I can find if I look for them and get brave. “DIFFERENT” shall become my Alter Ego, because I felt great from my chalk escape; proud of my 5th grade effort. Okay, maybe 7th grade, second semester. I realized that doing something different made all the difference in my day. Maybe I should design and wear one of those vinyl bracelets with “WWDD.” (What would different do?)

As I left the park, I decided to save the remaining KOTEX for next year’s Chalk-A-Thon. Yep! I’ll be back! Now, what are YOU going to do that’s different? GO. DO. DIFFERENT. bw