Thursday, December 23, 2010

Alcoholic blues

Would you drink this?
Laval, QC
November 2010
About these photos: We're sharing our favorite photos of the year for the next little while, and this photo is one of my faves. Please click here to share your own.
I grew up with this bottle. It sat on a shelf in the basement of the home where I grew up, slowly gathering a thickening layer of dust over the years. My dad collected all sorts of exotic bottles of liquor. Didn't drink them: Just added them to the collection after picking them up on his travels or receiving them as gifts.

This bottle, in particular, always fascinated me. How couldn't it? It was - and apparently still is - a particular shade of blue that almost seemed to be its own light source. While I played in the dimly lit basement, I'd occasionally glance over at the dusty bottle, wondering how neat it was that someone, somewhere, decided to make something that looked so lovely.

I couldn't imagine that anyone would ever want to drink it, though. Staring at it and appreciating it for its pure aesthetics seemed enough for me.

Fast forward a whole lot of years and I found myself in at my mom's early last month going through some of my dad's things with her. She's been slowly winnowing things down, and on this visit, she made her way to the liquor collection. I helped her distribute what she could to friends - yes, I filled the hatch of my car with booze and, yes, I've included the picture here, too - and ended up bringing a few representative and well-packed bottles back to London with me.

Not because I'll ever drink them, but because they were a part of my childhood and it brought me a certain degree of comfort to know I had held onto these things that had brought my father a certain degree of comfort, too.

That I was able to set up a quick photo shoot on my mother's dining room table and end up with a wicked cool shot that instantly takes me back to my childhood was, and is, a welcome and unexpected bonus. Life and loss still suck, but I'm learning to find snippets of brightness amid the murk.

Your turn: Do you remember a seemingly ordinary object from your childhood?


Mel Thompson said...

Reading your story made me remember the strangest thing. Do you remember the Batman movie from 1989 starring Michael Keaton? There's a scene at the beginning when he's a child and his parents get killed in the alley. I haven't seen it for a while, so I don't remember exactly how this part goes, but I remember there's a man in the alley (probably just before his parents get killed) opening a sandwich wrapped in wax paper.
Since I saw that movie as a kid, I developed this weird fascination for wax paper. I'd rather wrap food in that instead of cling wrap or tin foil. It's a weird tactile thing. Strange, I know.

Jim said...

I grew up with a big family in a typical household - Mom did all the cooking and cleaning, Dad worked and took care of the yard and the car. But he would take care of washing his own handkerchiefs - in a big soup pot on the stove, stirring in his special cleaning concoction with a special wooden stick.

After he passed, we were all in the house one day, sitting around the kitchen. My sister was at the stove making soup for lunch. I walked in, saw the long faces, and asked "isn't that the pot Dad used to wash his hankies?" Well, it really wasn't, but the horrified look on my sister's face and the laughs from the peanut gallery lifted the mood and got us all talking again.

I don't know why that popped into my head from your post, Carmi. But there you go. I guess it doesn't get more ordinary than a soup pot.

srp said...

It was a tree. A lombardy poplar tree, tall and thin and straight with fan shaped leaves. I would climb into the center of that tree, still no more than a few inches off the ground, but it smelled heavenly and the branches were so thick all around me that no one could see the little girl lost in the tree. Since these branches were long and came straight up, you could relax your whole body, lean back and let the tree be your hammock of sorts.. the winds blew off Lake Michigan and the poplar swayed.. rocking this little girl to sleep. There are still days that I long for that tree.