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Memories & Pictures

I'm from northern New Jersey, out in the woods. To get anywhere takes an insider's knowledge of back roads, alternate routes, and landmarks. To ask for directions is an essay question.

Last time I was there, I noticed my memory. I knew how to get to Mountain Lakes from Boonton because I could call up from the deep well of childhood a series of picture-postcard images of each stretch of road, each bend, each intersection. It was a matter of leafing through my mental postcards as if they were stored in an old shoebox. The only trouble was that, over the course of thirty years, some of the postcards had gotten lost, and some had been overwritten.

When I went back to my dad's home in Mountain Lakes, I was astonished: the cavernous rooms I remembered from when I was five had grown substantially smaller, now that I was big.

I said all that to say this: memory is a funny thing. In the course of doing some five hundred drawings of people's houses, I've seen that the house, in memory, is not the brick-and-mortar building apparent to the naked eye. Rather, it's a series of mental postcards that include the lilac bush, the crack in the sidewalk where Mom found her earring, the corner of the living room where the Christmas tree went, the old mailbox.

This house was fun to draw, as best I could, the way it looked to the kids who grew up there. (Thanks, Todd, for letting me share.) Photographs don't do justice to the memories. And, I would add, there's more truth in the memories than the photographs.



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