I buy a camera, a digital one, and reopen the musty bag of lenses and gear that has been schlepped from city to city, closet to closet, for more than a decade.

You coach t-ball. Your mother visits, sits at the kitchen table with our son, drawing pictures of windmills in orange and blue. Orange is the color of the Queen, he proclaims when we come home.

We go to Michigan, paint rocks, watch the sun set.

You throw the football with the boys in the neighbor’s yard.

We are utterly plain.

My stepmother wants to give us a portrait of the children for Christmas, and she makes an appointment for us while the artist is in town, so he can photograph the children in summer. She does this wanting us to be the kind of people who commission painted portraits of their children. She does this knowing that portrait painting is your family tradition.

You hate this painted portrait, but it hangs in our dining room anyway, still today.



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