the silverado in front of me on the mass pike has two stickers in its rear window: one saying, hi, neighbor! and the other a ‘blue lives matter’ american flag. i wonder if the driver realizes the irony. probably not—massachusetts does love its police.
somehow that’s one of the least annoying things about driving here, a state that has apparently abandoned the idea of being mindful of other drivers (much less concepts like turn signals or passing lanes). it makes me miss drivers in los angeles—a thought i never imagined having. the september air is the type of humid that makes the skin feel thick. i grew up primarily in new england but i certainly don’t miss this feeling. i don’t miss much at all; but i did miss out on a lot.
my oldest friend turned 40 today and so we played uno with his kids after they blew out the candles on a platter of homemade cupcakes. he’s one of a few people i’ve seen in my return trip east who have spent the last decades building a life full of long-term relationships, stable career paths, and photos decorating the walls of a family home. at this point, the thai food we shared tonight is about the extent of all we have in common anymore.
that’s the thing about navigating traffic, though—everyone has their way of moving forward. boston drivers may be irritating on the mass pike, but in real life, i’m the one careening through lanes without using turn signals, doing anything i can to not get caught up in the regular motion of things. instead of having a room of lego sets and baby pictures, i have passport stamps and matchbooks from italian wine bars. they’re all just choices on how to maneuver through time. how to deal with the traffic of everyone and everything.
it does make me wonder, though. cut through the traffic long enough, find a way to leave it all behind, and suddenly it is—now there’s no turn-offs from this road. no exit signs waiting for me. the people i’ve known may have gone along with the stop-and-go while i was making my way around it, but now they’re the ones with a home to head toward. i never doubted the routes i took before, and i can’t change them anyway. but all of this does give me some pause now, more than i’d like.
i’m working on a new painting series featuring portraits of the past—with my annual self-portrait the first one finished so far. i’d sent mariah a preview and this was her response, a rather interesting question. i don’t really spend much time with mirrors outside of these efforts.
portraiture is an interesting subject to me, because my goal with it is to convey a person’s nature more than their aesthetic. yet in the work i do of myself, it’s more to work on my own technical skills—like whatever i am trying to get correct in how i paint, i figure using myself for that process isn’t wasting anyone’s time. so while i’m looking at myself, i’m rarely seeing myself, and certainly not thinking much on how to convey whatever might be there.
it’s not all absent-minded—for this year’s work, the interplay between background and foreground is certainly considered. the torn-up 2021 piece was appropriate for its moment in my life. but these are more structural changes than actual art work. meanwhile, with the various portraits of others currently in-progress, it’s completely the opposite. funny how that goes.