Sometimes I get fixated on a photo or a painting and can’t think of anything else until I find something else to get obsessed about.
I remember taking my stepfather to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York when he came to visit from New Orleans. He and I kept walking back to the same paintings and stared at them together for long periods of time. It seemed almost that he and I saw the same things in those paintings.
I had one of those obsessive moments in December when I returned to Florida after being away from home for thirty years. Why didn’t I go home for thirty years? That’s another story for another time.
Mom, my nephew, his girlfriend and I walked downtown Pensacola on Christmas Eve while Mom and I reminisced about the city we remembered so many years ago. My nephew wanted to stop in at the Quayside Art Gallery. I remembered the gallery because my grandfather had been associated with it in the late 1970s-early 1980s.
We walked through the gallery exhibits but I kept walking back to one of the gallery rooms to stare at a print called Rocky Mountain Sunset by Raid Amin. It was a photo taken from the skies over the Rockies but it had a different meaning to me. Stephen had recently died and I think of him wherever he is now – of course, he is in the better place. From my view, the photo appeared to be taken from heaven as if one were standing on a cloud looking down through the orange and yellow sky. If I put myself in the place of the photographer, I could imagine that I was looking through a hole in the divide between heaven and earth to the earth below. The photo was mesmerizing and calming to me. But the photo was $150 and I was unwilling to spend the money. I remembered the photographer’s name and thought I’d look him up when I got home. I hoped I would forget about the print.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A month later, I called the gallery and asked them to tell me that they still had the photo because I wanted to buy it. They gave me the Dr. Amin’s contact information and he arranged to ship it to me at a cost that was almost the cost of the print. I didn’t care about the cost though. Dr. Amin must have thought I was just a little strange to desperately want a photo that he had taken more than 10 years ago and would pay to have it shipped to New Jersey. I know he was flattered too.
My living room wall never looked so good. And it’s all right that the photo has a different meaning than the one I have assigned to it.