I have a picture of my grandfather on my desk.
It's on the left.
I've had a number of desks over the years. Desks are my base of operations. When I move, it's the first piece of furniture I think about, and the first thing I settle into. Even in Peru - during that period I moved just about every week - it was always nice to find a hostel with a desk.
I've had this picture on my desk, every desk, since I've had desks.
Or, at least, I think I have. I realized today, about ten minutes ago, that I don't actually remember how or when I received this picture.
The picture of my little sister, across the desk on the right, is easy to date. I took it with me when I left for New York, five years ago. I was eighteen then, she was ten. She looks ten. Round glasses that are too large for her, a smile that is at once unsure but just a bit too young to be self-conscious, some sort of plaid shirt I know she doesn't own as a teenager, a natural hair color - and of course, no make up. Looking at it reminds me that I need to get a new picture. This one says nothing but "2009".
Next to that is a picture of David Bowie with a large dog. It rests on my microphone, waiting to be tacked onto the wall. I got that in New Paltz. Where else?
Returning to the left, I have a picture of myself and two of my friends posing at mini golf course in elementary school. It is not an old picture. In the grand scheme of my relatively short life, you could say it is. But, it isn't. My friends and I are probably around the same age my sister is in her picture. As old as the picture feels, thirteen years is not that long. Or, near thirteen years, rather.
I remember the picture being taken. I remember three copies of it being framed. I remember all of this taking place, but not exactly when. It's in that strange, foggy period of "childhood" that after a while seems to blend together into a soup of experiences - the exact chronology of which is confusing, and mostly irrelevant.
And then there's my grandfather.
It is, technically, a picture of both my grandfather and grandmother - back when they were a unit of "Grammy and Poppa." They are sitting together on a red bench, with water as a backdrop. I have no idea where they are, or why they are there. It's most likely Maine, as the picture is dated "1985" but it could just as easily be New York.
I was not alive in 1985, but I remember when they looked like this. I remember when my grandfather was alive and they lived together on Reg Rock Road in a cavernous house made for a large family with a large history. I remember it, but I know that my sister does not. I remember playing in the basement, and the attic, and at Poppa's thoroughly modern desk.
And now, here I am, at my thoroughly modern desk. My macbook pro sits in the center beside my USB condenser mic. The drawers hold external hard drives and digital camera chargers. Knick knacks I pick up as I go litter the edges, and a clock appropriately looms above it all.
In five years, how will this desk have changed? How antiquated will today's "thoroughly modern" be, and what pictures will go with it?