A Moment of Perfection

Bless me Internet, for I have sinned. It has been four months since my last blog post . . .

To be honest, I’ve had some trouble writing new posts lately. Since my blog is supposed to be art historical, I’ve struggled a bit. I feel like I should be writing about current events: art exhibitions, controversies, discoveries, and other goings on. Or, as I have often done, I should at least connect my musings to a movement or an artist or a specific work of art. None of those varieties of blogging have really spoken to me of late. Hence my silence.

But then it occurred to me in a flash: this is my very own blog and I can do what I please! So, I hope you’ll still read if I stray from art specifically. For me, the world and my experience of it is tied more vaguely to aesthetic experience. I am interested in how the visual aspects of of our lives shape our experiences and persist in our memories. I think that I might have tried to be a painter if I’d taken any art classes at a formative age. Instead, I write from time to time.

And so, my thoughts today aren’t really art related at all. And that’s okay.

***

Yesterday, I found myself (digitally) rifling through old photographs. My son’s preschool has requested family photos for a school project. As I searched different folders on my computer for a good representative photo of this or that family member, I stumbled across a few photos from December of 2013, when my son was eight months old. I was whisked away into nostalgia by these photos and didn’t really know why until it struck me this morning. The moment captured in those photos was a quiet moment of complete perfection, and of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. We never do at the time.

It was my parents’ wedding anniversary. My mother was being treated for ovarian cancer, but was still doing fine. (Little did I know that we had only about a week or two before her condition would worsen dramatically.) I had just traveled with my husband and our sweet baby to New York to defend my dissertation. We were on Amtrak, headed back to Philadelphia after a long, eventful day.

I had been a bundle of anxiety in the weeks leading up to my defense, suffering from a severe case of imposter syndrome; I was certain I would be called out for my shortcomings and not pass my defense. Fortunately, that was unfounded anxiety, and I in fact had an extremely positive defense, earning lots of praise and feeling great about myself afterward. My husband and son tromped around our old stomping grounds while I was defending. Afterward, we had a celebratory drink in a nearby bar with friends, while my son angelically bounced from lap to lap.

And then we caught the train home. We worried we would miss the train, so sprinted onto the first car we saw, not realizing it was the Quiet Car. It turned out not to be a problem, since my son fell asleep in my arms. My husband and I smiled at each other and gazed at our son with that corny, oozing love you only really learn about after you become a parent. When he woke up, we fed him some baby food from a jar, and he was all smiles but still quiet enough for the Quiet Car.

The industrial blight of New Jersey and Pennsylvania flashed past outside our train car window. I’m sure there was grime all around us, and I was sweaty after a day of nerves and rushing around the city. But I will always look back on that ride as one the most perfect moments in my life.

IMG_0454
I love this blurry shot my husband took, because it suggests the haze of memory, and captures the night landscape passing by our window.
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