Back in May, I participated in this ninety-minute writing class from a woman named Diane Cameron. Among many other things, she’s a freelance writer who appears in the local newspaper regularly.
The directive was to think of three doors that were important in your life. Then you write about one of them for four minutes. And by “writing,” this means not taking the pen off the paper, not editing, just letting the words take us where they would.
The first door was the outside door at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, the house in which I lived for the first 18 years of my life. We lived in a two-family dwelling, so this was the door to the hallway. It was very thick, as I recall, painted white, with green trim.
Inside the first-floor dwelling was the living room, very tiny by today’s standards. The remarkable thing, though, was the fact that my father painted on the walls. I don’t mean he hung his paintings on the wall, but that he painted art directly ONTO the walls.
The picture above was located between two of the windows in the front of the house. I think it was a re-creation of some painting he had admired, though I couldn’t tell you what. It seems that the colors were muted oranges, and tans, and maybe greens.
On the opposite wall was a sharp contrast: a mountain scene, all blue and black and gray and white. Very forceful and bright, where other painting was subtle and subdued. (The woman was dad’s mother, Agatha, who lived upstairs with her husband, and would die less than two years after this photo was taken.)
The feeling I got from the writing exercise was of some significant sadness. Those pictures are long gone, like the solar system he painted on my ceiling, or the Felix the Cat he created for my sisters’ bedroom. Other paintings and drawings and writings he created live on. So those particular creations represent a certain impermanence, not unlike life itself in general, and his life, which ended August 10, 2000, in particular.