BROTHER AND I ON A BANANA BOAT,
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, 1956
1942 when my mother was pregnant with my brother she embroidered
a map of the United States.
For years the map was displayed under the glass of our coffee
table. I sat on the sofa and, while adults talked, looked into
the map. I thought of the future and about going places. The
map now hangs on my office wall. I look at it and think of the
past - of my mother's life and the plans she had for her yet-to-be-born
The map represents the ideals of a family of teachers: that
travel and learning are good and that they are interwoven. Our
vacations were organized to prove it. Every summer we took to
the American road on trips that were designed to teach. Thus,
in Louisiana, it wasn't enough to stand on the shore and
stare at the Mississippi River. Getting on the banana boat was
better. And best of all was confirming it with a photograph.
This picture is one of my dad's earliest color photos,
and is a favorite of mine. He got the light, the composition,
the characters - even the moment.
And then there is Steve and me, dressed as twins again, living
out the promise of the map.