Monday, April 26, 2010



Yesterday was probably as perfect as it gets for a person like me. The gray weather turned out to be nothing more than the threat of gale-force precipitation playing out in brief intervals of gentle rain. It was the kind of rain that doesn't seem to matter if you get caught in it since it never reaches a person's core.

Of course you never know such is the case on days like these until you risk getting soaked to the soul.

We were risking it ...

I had the address of a gallery I'd wanted to visit in Hudson. It was having an exhibition of two photographers -- Judith Barrett and Moira Black -- each showing family photographs.

Filled with woodfired pizza and bribed with the promise of ice cream, the kids were sitting tall on our shoulders. They were reaching up for the branches of trees trying to liberate the water balanced on leaves as we counted addresses to our destination ... five blocks away.

The man at the gallery seemed happy to see us, unsure as he was that anyone would brave the weather on a Sunday.

I looked at every photograph as he told me a little something about the photographers. He was an exceptionally nice man.

Family photographs, in a gallery anyway, usually mean intimate moments that are raw, dirt smeared and just mildly awkward. There's often a reality that pushes beyond incidental smiles. I can't help but be drawn to them.

My kids, also dirt-smeared and awkward, were on their best jumping up-and-down behavior.

Turns out Annabel's jumping-up-and-down was more purposeful than her brother's. She had to use The Facility. The man showed her to a door with a red circle and slash tacked one of its panels. "Do you know what this means?" he asked. "Ladies?" she guessed.

It means "do not enter," or "off limits," I laugh. "In this case, it means he's making an exception for you."

That's me in their presence: Frazzled. Always a mother. Always feeling watched. Always feeling worried, sometimes needlessly.

Afterward, as we made our way back to the car and the quest to deliver on the promise of treats, I asked my husband what he thought of the photographs.

"I can't really say," he treaded lightly around my question. "I don't have the emotional connection to their families that I have to ours."

Photographs, especially family ones, aren't his cup of contemporary navel gazing.

"I can't really compare."

I don't think I was asking for comparisons though I know there are some to be made.

One photographer yells "LOOK AT ME!" while the other whispers *lookatme.* Intimate moments, perhaps, or perhaps they are instants created with a hold-it-just-a-moment-longer request. It's up to us to interpret what it all means, if anything, through the lens of our own lives.