Tragically Humorous

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I was in grad school between 2005-2007 studying documentary photography.  While working on my thesis project I discovered the work of David Hilliard.  I fell in love with the first photograph I saw titled, “Susie Floating.”  The images only got better.  I loved Hilliard’s work so much that he directly influenced my thesis show.

Last year, I visited a local house gallery for the first time.  This married couple own it and maintain an extensive artist in residency program with an even more extensive personal art collection.  In that collection were two of Hilliard’s pieces.  I am not sure if I can express what it’s like to be influenced and visually love something from afar, only to have it unexpectedly be before you.  Perhaps it’s like that obscure band you find while perusing iTunes, only to discover a few years later they are playing in your town.  I was fascinated.

Last month, the same gallery had a show for Hilliard.  I went with my six year old in tow as I normally do since I am a single mom.  No bother though, she has a vast knowledge of life from always being in tow.  The first photograph I saw was “Susie Floating.”  It’s so beautiful that I was easily brought to tears, but the best part was, Hilliard was there.  I had know idea he would be.  As I listened to him speak, I decided that I would express to him what an honor it was to be in his presence and how much he had, and continues to, influence me.

But as he spoke, I kept smelling a foul odor.  It would come and go and it was quite uncomfortable as I hoped, as I am sure the others around me did too, that people did not think the odor was coming from me.

My six year old wanted to whisper in my ear.  As I bent down she asked if we could leave as her belly was hurting. Once we got outside, she explained to me that she could not stop farting.  It had been her the foul odor was seeping out of.  As we walked to the car, she told me she was sorry and that next time I could meet him.

What she doesn’t know and I didn’t tell her, was there will probably not be a next time.  But what was most important was that she was uncomfortable and I needed to put aside my excitement and take her home to poop.  That’s what becoming a parent is about.  Having a moment of a lifetime be interrupted by your kid farting at the party.

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