October 20, 2009

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Rafael Esquer

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Sketchbook: HOPSCOTCH

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“Hopscotch” from Rafael Esquer sketchbook Hopscotch is played with a pebble that you move with the tip of your toe. The things you need: a sidewalk, a pebble, a toe, and a pretty chalk drawing, preferably in colors. On top is Heaven, on the bottom is Earth, it’s very hard …

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“Hopscotch” from Rafael Esquer sketchbook

Hopscotch is played with a pebble that you move with the tip of your toe. The things you need: a sidewalk, a pebble, a toe, and a pretty chalk drawing, preferably in colors. On top is Heaven, on the bottom is Earth, it’s very hard to get the pebble up to Heaven, you almost always miscalculate and the stone goes off the drawing. But little by little you start to get the knack of how to jump over the different squares (spiral hopscotch, rectangular hopscotch, fantasy hopscotch, not played very often) and then one day you learn how to leave Earth and make the pebble climb up into Heaven, the worst part of it is that precisely at that moment, when practically no one has learned how to make the pebble climb up into Heaven, childhood is over all of a sudden and you’re into novels, into the anguish of the senseless divine trajectory, into the speculation about another Heaven that you have to learn to reach too. And since you have come out of childhood you forget that in order to get to Heaven you have to have a pebble and a toe.

“La rayuela se juega con una piedrita que hay que empujar con la punta del zapato. Ingredientes: una acera, una piedrita, un zapato, y un bello dibujo con tiza, preferentemente de colores. En lo alto está el Cielo, abajo está la Tierra, es muy difícil llegar con la piedrita al Cielo, casi siempre se calcula mal y la piedra sale del dibujo. Poco a poco, sin embargo, se va adquiriendo la habilidad necesaria para salvar las diferentes casillas (rayuela caracol, rayuela rectangular, rayuela de fantasía, poco usada) y un día se aprende a salir de la Tierra y remontar la piedrita hasta el Cielo, hasta entrar en el Cielo (…) lo malo es que justamente a esa altura, cuando casi nadie ha aprendido a remontar la piedrita hasta el Cielo, se acaba de golpe la infancia y se cae en las novelas, en la angustia al divino cohete, en la especulación de otro cielo al que también hay que aprender a llegar. Y porque se ha salido de la infancia (…) se olvida que para llegar al Cielo se necesitan, como ingredientes, una piedrita y la punta de un zapato”

Fragment from Julio Cortázar “Rayuela” (Hopscotch)

Reading this passage from Julio Cortázar most famous book “Rayuela” (Hopscotch, 1966) I am aware of the ways our lives tend to become unnecessary intricate as we get older.

As a young boy all I needed was a wood pencil, a piece of paper (which most often it was the unused areas in my school notebook) and a quiet place to draw. That was enough to make me happy.

Then, life goes on with its unpredictable predictability. Like the way a leaf falls from the trees on a brisk autumn day in New York, adolescence hit us. That is, first loves, fear, changes, sexual appetite, acne, awkwardness, new meaning of beauty, hair in other places, ponderings, and an unexplainable desire to get to the next phase.

After hundreds of adventures, a good number of roads traveled, long sleepless nights, one or two or three lovers and uncountable lessons (some learnt, some not), I am an adult. Suddenly, life gets complicated.

My sketchbook takes me back to that far place. It evokes those simple days where the only things needed were: a pencil, a piece of paper and a quiet space to draw. As Cortázar’s piece of writing states “in order to get to Heaven you have to have a pebble and a toe.” I’m reminded to take it one day at a time. I’m reminded to listen to the child within me. I’m reminded that few things are needed to be happy.

Rafael Esquer. New York, NY. October, 2010

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