The Graduation Photo

Last night I dreamed that everyone left me. Deeply depressed, I went to a party filled with strangers. Groucho Marx, looking old in a mustard tweed thread-bare blazer, sat next to me and told me how he’s given up on life because he can’t score with the ladies anymore. I encouraged him to try, and ya know, I think before I woke up, he actually scored!

My mother had a house on a wooded corner lot in a rural town. In the living room were a sofa where she would sit and an arm chair where I would sit, and together we’d talk the afternoons away. Brimming with the excitement of having company, she’d sweep me away with stories of seeing a 19-year-old Sinatra or going on a date with the horn player from the Dorsey band. Around us were plants in pots, old books, a curio cabinet filled with antiques, and photos propped up on tables, shelves and the fireplace mantel. Photos of me, my sister… of her and my dad… of us, the family. On the mantel, she proudly displayed my old high-school graduation photo, a photo only a parent could love. My need-a-haircut couture, and face contorted in a take-this-damn-necktie-off smirk.

This morning, this chilly-but-oh-so-comfortable first-autumn-morning, as I lay there with my old tabby cat at my side, I opened my eyes which, still unfocused, thought they saw that old graduation photo across the bedroom, propped up on my wife’s dresser. And for one half-asleep moment, I felt young again. And safe again.

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