Today I got our painting back, a Volschenk print, valueless and faded, but clean with a new backing. I’m absolutely stoked. It’s now on the wall where I can see it from every angle. Why? because there’s a story behind it. Let me share it with you. I promise I’ll be brief.
Having a father who was a construction boilermaker, we moved around a lot, not easy on us, always having to start new schools and friendships etc. I remember once helping to plant a little fir tree in the backyard of one of the houses we lived in and asking my mother whether we would see it “grow big” or not. She said we would, but a year later I found myself gazing at it through the back window of our car as we left for yet another home in another town. I never stopped wondering about that tree. Some years ago I went back to the house to see whether it was there. Sadly, it was not. I came away a little jilted.
But back to the painting. When you move around like that something in you yearns for stability. In a strange way that’s precisely what this painting did for me. It always went with us, and somehow whenever it was hung on the new wall, I felt at home and rooted again. It seemed to be the one thing that never changed. Hanging it and taking it down became a kind of ritual signifying “being at home” and “moving on.”
I was never quite sure why it had that affect on me. Later the realization dawned that the mountain in the background must have had something to do with it. Nothing is more stable and firm than a mountain.
After my mother died the painting came to me, and because of the profession I had chosen, it travelled on with me to numerous other homes. The ritual continued to play itself out.
Today we’re established and rooted in our own home without ever having to move again. The picture has been hung and my intention is never to take it down again. So now I gaze at it, the two of us at rest, and I remember a little fir tree I never saw “grow big;”
In my mind’s eye I also see the many homes we lived in and the many faces of friends made and left, and I look out across to the sea, and then at the picture on the wall, and I say to myself, “We’re home.” It’s a good feeling.
I wonder if there’s anything in your home that tells a story, or is in the process of creating its own story? I’d love to hear about it.