Part of moving out is growing up. Wait. Reverse that: Part of growing up is moving out.
I just moved into the second apartment that I am paying for entirely on my own, and I already see it as more of a blank canvas than an abode. I am not ashamed to say that I am an avid HGTV fan and dream, off and on, about being an interior decorator. Genevieve Gorder is my current all-time favorite. While I may never be as patient with a paint brush or as savvy with color as Gen is, I find great moments of calm bliss just from rearranging furniture and staring at paint chips or fabric samples. I’ve gotten a good start on my new place with beautiful chairs from Crate & Barrel that I saved up for; boxes of flawless hand-me-down glasses from my grandparents that are now proudly displayed in an on-loan buffet; and brand new navy blue curtains that were a bargain at J.C. Penny! Slowly, but surely, I am making what I believe is the first place I’ll stay in longer than a year, a home.
From 2003 to 2010, I moved to a new place about every 365 days. But while things came and went and the decor changed significantly almost every year (In 2003, I had a palm tree lamp and a poster from An Endless Summer. In 2009, my posters went behind custom frames and look like art), one thing remained the same:
The above image is of a framed vintage poster I have hanging in my apartment. This poster has been on a wall of every single one of the places I’ve lived over the past 7 years. The art was created to promote Pan Am’s flights to the South Pacific by Paul George Lawler. Lawler is an artist I haven’t been able to find too much information on, but my limited research shows he made other ads for Pan American flights to places all around the world. You can buy the above image almost anywhere that sells posters and postcards online, but I can guarantee that as mass produced as this is, no one looks at it and sees what I see.
This poster is a drawing of Samoa (or Western Samoa, as it was probably called when the original drawing was made). The image of paradise is not fictitious, it is a real place. In fact, the bay that appears to be just below the plane is the bay where my parents and I spent our first moments as a family.
When my mom and dad found this poster, they realized almost immediately where it was. They saw the beach where my mom sat on a plastic, outdoor recliner to feed me bottles. They recognized the shallow waters where my dad took me for my first swim with him, supporting me on his knee with one hand as he made ripples in the water with his other. That was back in 1985; I was six months old and the three of us had only known each other mere days. But we were, of course, already a family.
My framed poster has traveled from Texas to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Indiana… and now it’s back in Texas again. Somehow, the glass survived college, though I (AND my dad…) did duct tape it to the cinder block wall of my sophomore dorm room, thinking it’d stay put. It, of course, fell on my head and laptop one night during an intense studying session. I took that as a sign it was time to give up on studying.. and that I should never duct tape a large, framed picture to anything ever again. But I’m pretty sure the poster is indestructible, which is, perhaps a good metaphor for the ties that bind a family, no matter how that family is created.