“What’s a canvas?” my mother asks.
“Um…it’s a uh erm…” I stammer. What the hell? I know what a canvas is. I’m into Art. I’m an artist. Why can’t I explain it? “It’s um…basically what artists paint on.”
“Noooo. Like a cloth. Material.”
“People paint on CLOTHS?” I laugh.
“Well, er, sometimes.”
“Oh ok.” She’s still confused, but doesn’t want to press it further.
“Well, I’ve won a voucher for a canvas. So I was wondering what it was.”
“That’s nice. Are you gonna start painting?”
“No!” We both laugh.
“What are you gonna do with it then?”
“Mmm, I’m not sure yet.”
I try my best not to slam the door as I enter the house, but I live in a windy city so…My mother hears me walk past the TV room and calls me. I walk into a room filled with stacks of old photographs, most of them from a childhood I no longer remember.
“What are you doing?” I ask, looking around.
“I’m looking at photos. The guy at the shop said that I can pick a photo and he’ll print it onto the canvas.
We spend the next hours looking through photographs. My mother tells me more stories about how I was as a child. How I was sad and in pain through one of my birthdays as I had been vaccinated the day before. Or how I decided to eat soup with a fork because curiosity…
After some time, my mom came across an old envelope. In it was a letter with photographs she’d sent to my grandmother while we were living overseas. We find the perfect picture. All five of us are in it. I cried for most of that shoot. My dad tells me it’s because I didn’t like strangers. Thirty-one years later not much has changed.
“Yes, this is the one,” I say, holding up the above picture. “You should use this one.”
“Are you sure?” my mother asks. “You’re crying.”
“Yeah. Use it.”