About The Things We Leave Behind
Everybody owns a thing a person leaves behind when they leave us, and we’re all familiar with the way that thing morphs into something sacred and symbolic. This my story about that thing…
I’ve been looking at this picture you gave me every single day since you told me it was over. I’m looking at it right now, as I’m writing this and though it’s rectangular, it has the illusion of a question mark because I don’t know what to do with it.
And I’m hesitant to talk about the picture at length because you always told me when you leave, the picture would go with you. Remembered I protested? Told you that picture was mine, your gift to me, and no matter how bad things got between us, you should never take a gift back. Well, except of course if I did something foul, then, yeah, the picture would go back with you.
But I didn’t do anything foul, and you ended things with me for perfectly acceptable reasons, painful as they were. Yet, the picture is still here, on my wall and I look at it every single day in ways much different than I used to.
When you gave it to me, I told you how I loved the picture for more than what was in the frame. It wasn’t about the contents. I mean, it was, OBVIOUSLY, but it was so much more than that.
First, it was how thoughtful you were to give me the picture. It was a complete surprise. I first saw it on your phone, remarked how much I loved it, though I never hinted at wanting my own copy. But maybe the drool coming from my lip after I first saw it indicated that to you.
On a random Saturday after brunch, you said for me to come with you as you went to go run an errand. So I followed you to a print shop, having not the slightest idea why we were there. From the back of the shop, one of the clerks came out, wearing a mischievous grin on her face as she handed over this huge bag to you. You handed the bag to me, and I looked inside.
Do you remember the way I looked when I saw what was in there? Do you remember how my eyes lit up when I realized you took that picture from your phone and had it enlarged and stretched over a canvas? I hope you remember the smile on my face and the excitement in my step as we walked out of the store, cause I remember it. I remember we took it back to your place first (we had somewhere else to be later, so we couldn’t take it to my place), and I set the picture against your window and took a picture of it. I took a picture of your picture, that’s how much I loved that picture. It wasn’t my birthday, or Christmas, or an anniversary of ours. It was a Saturday, one of my best Saturdays of all time.
When I took it home with me, and hung it up on my wall, I stared at it for a very long time. And I don’t know how long I was looking at it before I picked up on the second and more important reason why this picture is so much more than a picture.
It is one of those for-your-eyes-only type of pictures, even though it’s hanging on my wall and all my guests see it when they walk in. But you knew that when you gave it to me and that’s what I love so much about it. Not because it is so provocative but because it represented the comfort you had with me at one time, and the passion we had for each other.
I sometimes wonder if you remember the conversation we had about the picture, and how you said, if you go, the pictures goes because you’re gone and the picture’s here, and you still haven’t asked for it back. When I look at it these days, hanging above my couch in my living room, I convince myself you’ve left it here with no plans to come back for it, but plans to come back to me.
I’ve been looking at this picture every single day since you told me it was over and I don’t just think of the woman in the picture, or the passion and comfort it represented between us. I think of the woman who gave me the picture on a Saturday, for no other purpose than to give me a reason to think about her all the time.