Friday 21 Oct 2016

The Picture
AJ Robinson

Simple line drawings are just a picture, nothing all that special. Well, for me, there have been many pictures, and, yes, some have not been that important; even some of the dinosaur drawings I entered in various art festivals. Yet, there was one little image that meant a lot to me, and how simple a picture it was.

The print, tacked to the wall of our cottage on Commonwealth Avenue, in Boston, was a simple pencil drawing. It showed a man and a woman on a sailboat doing what my Dad called, “hiking.” That is, the boat was bent way over in the water and the couple was essentially standing on the side of the boat and stretching their bodies straight out. They used the various ropes and lanyards to keep from falling overboard. The caption on the picture was two words. The man asked, “Happy?” The woman replied, “Ecstatically.” My Dad had added names to the picture, his name and my mother’s.

I didn’t understand the point of the picture, but my Dad finally explained it one day. My Mom enjoyed going out on their sailboat, but she was most definitely not into something like that.

It was a joke and my parents both found it amusing.

The picture stayed there on the wall, which was amazing, in its way, given it was just a simple little drawing, only a couple inches square, and that it was only held in place by a single thumb tack. Yet, year in, year out, it was always there, and I grew to find it rather comforting to see it. It was yet another consistent part to life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Time moved on, and things changed. My parents got divorced and began to shed certain things from their respective lives. My Dad took down the picture.

In fact, he threw it away.

It hurt. It hurt more than I ever thought it would. He found another picture, something very similar: a couple hiking on a catamaran. He wrote the same dialogue, but changed the names to be him and his new girlfriend.

I was not happy.

He kept that picture around for the longest time, and I was surprised at how much it hurt me to look at it. Each viewing reminded me of the other picture and the wound opened anew. I found it funny that the loss of a picture would so affect me, but that was a very bad time in my life. I was losing so many aspects of my life: home, family, friends, hometown, dog, and so on. In a strange way, even tiny little snippets of my life were important.

That picture was one of those snippets. To this very day, I can close my eyes and see that image, and I still miss it. Let this be a lesson to all parents: something you consider unimportant may be of great value to your child. Think before you toss those little memory remnants into the trash.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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