It’s the only picture in my bedroom actually. She is in her late teens or early twenties, standing with her back to the camera, and playing the guitar next to a couple of cars. Her hair has been pinned up hastily and she is Jeans and a simple top. Obviously a casual environment. I have pictures of friends and family all over my apartment, yet this is the only one in my bedroom. It’s in one of those clear plastic frames that have no border and you just slip the picture in and it stands by itself.
So, anthropologist, who is this? What can you infer by just looking at this scene?
You can infer a lot, but the correct interpretation is I am a slob. I do not have the most pristine living habits. Clothes are everywhere, I have never heard of dusting and I only remember to do the dishes piled in the sink when the CDC issues an alert.
I take a lot of pictures, and when I was at Kodak I also had access to free high quality prints, so I printed a lot of pictures. As you might imagine from the description above, the organization schema for these picture was the “piled until it toppled off the shelf, and even then just keep kicking them out of the way rather than pick them up” method.
Don’t be so horrified, most men lived this way before and between relationships. Bachelors would rather eat out of the dish we cooked something in that wash a plate, and when trying to decide what to do with leftovers, the thought process is something like “Well, I don’t think it will make me sick.”
I don’t know who the girl is and I am too lazy to put the picture someplace else, Oh, I know where I took the picture, I remember the moment, but as far as who she is, I have no idea. It does not hold any special meaning for me. But over time, I kind of like the picture, and it has just sat there, unnoticed until I get my socks and wonder for the umpteenth time why its there.
How did it get there? My living habits are the answer. A few months ago, I broke down and called someone in to clean twice a month. I have never done this in my life, it always seemed silly to hire that out. Ok, silly to me, not silly to the people complaining about the odors. The person recommend to me walked into my door, looked around and asked, “Um, how long since you have dusted?” Apparently “never” was indeed the answer she was expecting. The first session took three people three hours to make my wee little place clean.
When I got home that night, I was nothing short of giddy. It was like a new apartment. I know, I am supposed to be all green, but I loved that chemical cleaner smell. The carpet was clean, the dishes had not simply crawled away under their own power to plot an assault on the living room, they were washed and put away! I was like a cave man learning to use fire for the first time, and lo, it was good.
They organized things, they put them away, they made neat little piles, they dusted. You mean this is how people live all the time?
The subsequent visits have been much easier. I pay the same rate every other week, but I think they get the cleaning done fairly quickly, so seem to fill the rest of the time rearranging stuff. I tell friends about this and they tell me they would totally freak out and fire them on the spot. For me it’s an entertaining little adventure. Where will my laundry be today? Oh look what they did with the couch. Oh, my bookshelves have been rearranged to reflect some obscure classification system known only to the Rosicrucian’s.
So early on, a pile of pictures and a dusty scratched empty frame vanished from one room, and a random picture in a frame reappeared in another. It seemed curious, but I never bothered to move it.
It was taken at a music festival in upper New York State. I met her family that weekend and we all spent a lot to time playing music together under the tents. I have other pictures of her family in a collage of music pictures in my living room. Her dad was an ok fiddle player.
And that is why it is the only picture in a place of prominence in my home.
And this is why we talk to people and don’t just rely on what we see.