Pretty Pictures

Before I took the position in Atlantic City back in 2002, I was offered a job in Maryland. I turned it down at the time because one of my best girlfriends from high school lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which is only an hour away from Atlantic City. I thought it would be a great idea to live close to her again. And initially it was. As it turned out, though, it was that close proximity that made us finally realize that we no longer had anything in common.

The reason I bring up Maryland is that I’ve been looking at graduate schools and one of the few that actually offers the program I’m looking at is University of Maryland.

Unfortunately, I really hate cold weather, and after totaling three cars the one winter I spent in Vermont – one of the cars actually became airborne and flew through two saplings before coming to rest with a loud thump and then bled out radiator fluid all over the front yard of the very traumatized Reverend and Mrs. Fish – I really, really hate driving in the snow.

Still, I’m thinking about it, and I’ve even found the quaintest town from which to make an impossibly long commute, Easton, Maryland. Check out their website. It looks idyllic, doesn’t it? I’m such a whore for a pretty picture.

There’s no way it’s actually going to happen, though. I can’t stress enough how much I really, really, really hate cold weather, and it’s a five-year program. Hmm… Maybe I can just take online courses.


Work’s been absolutely insane this week. In the midst of that, I’ve been trying to get my house back in order from being gone for four days and leaving Boy in charge of everything. He was a trooper, though, and very self-sufficient. Still, there are clothes to wash and shelves to dust. There’s that scratch on my bureau that I’ve been calling “character” but meaning to fill that’s still not fixed. And those darn flowers that I planted last month need to be tended. I should get all caught up right before I have to leave again in another week for a conference.

It never ends, does it? Even once you get your life to look like the picture in your head, you still have to work to maintain it. And it makes me wonder how much time I waste staying so fixed on that picture and outward appearances that I forget why exactly that’s the picture that’s so pretty to me.

Look, I know it’s important to not lose sight of the big picture, but when did I stop seeing that the little things are just as important? Details are what make up the pretty picture. Details give depth. Details make the ordinary special.

We don’t remember days, we remember moments. An Italian poet, Cesare Pavese, said that sometime in the early part of the last century. In the end, you don’t remember the perfectly appointed living room. You remember your favorite chair or your grandmother’s photo in the silver frame on the console. And it’s the little things that count, too, because, well, the big picture has a tendency of getting better when you concentrate on the things that make up that picture.

So whether it’s the perfect town, the perfect home, or the perfect life I think I’m going to try to do a better job of remembering that it’s not that big picture that the world sees on the outside that makes it a pretty one. Really, it’s what I know about the little things, the details, even that scratch on my bureau that I’ve still got to fill, that make it into something pretty perfect to me.

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