Everyday, I wake up, mildly amazed by my wife. She’s smart, funny and constantly fascinating and through some lovely circumstance, still married to me. But after all our years together, the gifts you truly value start to evolve. What matters changes.
Which is why I love this so much. This is our gift to each other this year; an oil painting of our family swimsuits drying on hooks outside our place in Wisconsin. The memories this image conjures in my head–the barefoot days, the happy hours out on the lake and evenings on the porch–make it redolent with joy. But the fact that one of our best friends for many years painted it specifically for us makes it particularly resonant.
I’ve known Marie Kirk Burke my entire professional career. A well-regarded voice over actress capable of becoming anything from a Keebler Elf to a devastating Barbara Walters, we worked together a lot when I was producing radio in Chicago. Later we became neighbors and Marie and her equally hysterical husband Kevin became fast friends for dinners and movies debated over Baker’s Square pies. Over the past ten years, Marie’s re-immersed herself in painting, and we’ve loved seeing her career bloom in showings and Chicago galleries (see more of her work here).
No, you can’t see all that in this painting. But we feel it, that great and mysterious gift of art. It’s like hanging a smile in your living room. And what a wonderful gift that is.