No one has the relationship to the little boy in the picture below that I do. It is a photograph from one of four albums that my mother prepared thirty years ago, one album for each of my three brothers and one for me. Without retaining any memory of the occasion on which the photograph was “snapped,” I know that it is a picture of me returning from school one day.
I presume the person who took this photograph was either my father or my mother, standing between the two lugustrum shrubs that flanked our front walkway in New Orleans. I can’t claim to know for sure why I am running. We didn’t ordinarily use the front door of our house; it led into a formal living room that was carpeted, and my brothers and I were normally not permitted through it when we first came home from school. Perhaps we had unexpected family visitors that day, and I was heading as fast as I could to the back door of our house to get into the house and greet them.
When my parents died, two people vanished who could effortlessly link in their minds the child in the picture of that school day with the grown man forty years later entering their home on visits two and three times a year and driving them to doctors’ offices and picking up meals for them at the nearby Piccadilly Cafeteria. It is hard for me to realize that they could have watched me walking through their house during those visits and pictured in their mind earlier times when I had walked through without a beard, without a job, without Marc.
In the entry hall of our house, there is a photograph of Marc and me from a visit we had made to New Orleans the first summer after we moved in together. We are on our way to breakfast at Brennan’s. Marc is wearing a seersucker suit, and I have my yellow tie and blue shirt and grey flannels. We are flush with the excitement of a warm welcome from my family and a sense of something working out in our lives that we might sometimes have despaired of ever seeing.
To my eyes over twenty years later on the eve of our anniversary, these two men in their mid-thirties look young.
I marvel that there are people in our lives now who can effortlessly link in their minds the picture of Marc and me on our way to Brennan’s with the men twenty years later welcoming them into our home and eating with them around the dining room table. I pause in wonder that friends and family can watch Marc and me walking through our home during their visits and can picture in their mind the earlier times when we all of us walked through other homes, talked through other jobs, and tried to glimpse the future chapters of our lives.