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The Painting

August 13, 2009

One winter an old friend moved away.
As he packed his art collection to load into the moving van, I asked for one of his paintings.

I selected his favorite one.
Not so much because it was my favorite, but because I knew he would miss it the most.
The way I would miss him.

No doubt, fueled by the guilt of leaving, he obliged, giving me his favorite painting.

A weeping willow tree…
Near a pond –
Colored by autumn…
Three little birds…
Sturdy wood frame…
Iron inlay…
Velvet border…

So, not my style.

The first few weeks after his move, I kept the painting propped against a wall in my living room – just to feel closer to him. It seemed to work.

By summer, I could no longer stand to look at the thing and put it behind my bedroom wall unit. I didn’t need the visual symbol. My friend and I talked regularly, writing and emailing even more regularly.

We made plans to visit one September. Nothing went as planned. This was a good thing.
Several tiny travel glitches kept me out of airports on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
(Who says Tuesdays are the best travel day? – Someone does say that, right?)

As the buildings collapsed around our plans I knew I would never see my friend again.
No, no – he didn’t die in the towers. He moved to cowboy country, but the events signaled the end of an era for us. It was. We stayed in touch, but by year three the years had done what years do. The distance had done even more.

Then a few months ago I got the most bizarre craving to see that old painting. I tried to ignore the craving, because stashing the painting behind the wall unit was much, much easier than retrieving it would be.

But that’s the thing about cravings.
With stepladder and contortions in tow I retrieved the painting. I dusted it, and propped it back against the same wall where it had rested years ago.

I played a few bars of, “Send Him an E-mail”, only to be upstaged by the, “He Hasn’t E-mailed Me So I’m Not Emailing Him” overture.

Greed, anger, or stupidity – Sometimes all three.

Note: When someone crosses your mind, especially someone you don’t see or hear from regularly, contact the person.

My old friend died this year. Around the time I was creating this blog. Around the same time I got a hankering to look at his ugly old painting.

If I wanted, I could find many reasons to cry – instead, I will follow his immortal words and, “Shed No Tears”.

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