In the museum shop, she told him to pick out some postcards—not to send, she told him, but to keep as a reminder. “In your room, you can create your own museum in miniature.”
He did just that, and he would add to it whenever he had the chance to buy postcards of pictures and objects he liked. When they moved to Jasper’s, he took down each one, meticulously peeling the tape that held it to the wall. Up in the crow’s nest, he reconstructed his gallery above the desk. He had thirty-five postcards then. By the time he left for college, he had close to three hundred. P 51
If I close my eyes I can still see the wall above the bed in my college dorm room. Back then one of my main obsession was watching “thirtysomething.” I wanted to live a life that involved friends like Michael and Hope, with a daughter like Jaynie and a dog named Grendel. I would scour magazines and clip out pictures, mostly from this show. But I soon expanded my reach to other couples– anything that might catch my eye, cause my heart to beat faster. People hugging, kissing, holding hands, embracing, or one person’s hand poised to smooth back a stray lock while they looked deep into each other’s eyes. I called it People in Love. It was an ever-growing, evolving wall collage. They watched over me at night and guided my dreams. Someday I knew I would be as happy as they were.
One day I took them all down, carefully peeling the tape off and trying not to destroy the paint. There is a possibility these pictures still exist somewhere in a folder, but there is also the possibility that they didn’t survive one of our great purges. I didn’t think I needed to keep them, as I finally found a living breathing example. I like to think I had some great mentors.
The practice, though, has remained. Each time I got a new job I put up pictures, mostly postcards from museum shops. Often O’Keeffe paintings or quotes from Austen or Woolf, greeting cards still in their cellophane wrappers. Each time I changed jobs I would put them in a box. Some of them would come with me to the new job, but often I would just start collecting again and putting up new cards and trinkets.
Now my desk at work is covered with pictures that the kids have given me over the years. My shelves are lined with examples from craft projects. But now that I finally have my own writing space here at home, I’ve dug out all of the cards I have been saving. I’ve hung a clothesline on the wall and clipped cards featuring my beloved bunnies, cameras, flowers, teapots and ocean scenes. In front of me there is a shelf of paperbacks– they serve as the backdrop for images of birds. Perched on branches, phones, fans, suitcases, captured the moment before they lift their wings and take flight.
One of the cards has the quote: ‘The songbirds song, it stops what I am doing at the sink.’ This is so true. They are my inspiration. A reminder, a nudge towards writing this book which is perched inside, wanting to crack through the shell and finally emerge.
The birds, as the people before them, watch over me. They help shape my thoughts and serve as inspiration, so that I can chase after them on this crooked, winding path until I finally reach that longed for destination.