The Husband’s best friend lives in Sweden. How his best friend lives in another country, on another continent, is another blog post.
For now, I want to share the story I was reminded of by Pictures, Poetry and Prose, when we visited his family a couple of years ago.
I’ve always loved art and have a true appreciation for the gift some people are given to bring life to pencil and paint. I am especially fond of the classics: Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt.
While in Sweden, we visited the National Museum in Stockholm. Knowing we were only interested in certain works, we carefully planned our visit, analyzing the visitor’s map, setting out our own personal tour. As with most art museums, each room was dedicated to either an artist or a particular period, with small foyers separating each area.
The Husband was reading the map, leading the way, and I simply wandered behind him, awed at the paintings I was seeing.
I glanced over my shoulder to see The Husband disappear around a corner. I followed him and found myself in a tiny darkened foyer. To my left was the entrance to a larger, brightly-lit room in which hung enormous paintings, at which The Husband was already gazing. I was about to follow him, when something caught my eye. The walls in this foyer were barren except for a glass-enclosed case to my right. I turned to look and the air rushed out of me as I gasped.
There, before me, was one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, one he painted in 1630. It suddenly hit me—where I was, what I was experiencing. These were works I had only seen in books and slides in classrooms. Here I was, standing amidst paintings that were brushed hundreds of years ago, by legendary artists. Overcome with emotion, I began to tear and I stood like a fool gaping at this incredible artistry.
As I’m standing alone in this darkened room, gazing at the portrait, in walk four Chinese tourists. They do the same thing I did. They walk in, all gibbering to each other then stop cold as they see the self-portrait. There’s a moment of silence as it registers, then they all start chattering excitedly to each other in Chinese. Clearly, they can’t believe it either and are equally impressed. They see me—the only other person in the room—and point excitedly at the painting. I smile and nod with them, the excitement clear on my own face, I’m sure. They gather around me and we all stand there, in silence, gazing in wonder at this masterpiece.
I sniffle, trying to swallow the enormous lump in my throat. One of the men pats my shoulder and murmurs something comforting in Chinese, smiles at me and they go off into the next room, the bond broken, but not forgotten. Never forgotten.
Before we left, we stopped by the Gift Shop. I purchased a post card of that same portrait, not really knowing what I'd do with it when I got home. A few weeks later, The Husband surprised me: he had taken it to have framed. It now hangs in our living room, a constant reminder of a wonderful memory.