the comfort of old friends
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On a recent trip into New York to visit my niece, sister, and my dear friend from college, I took a few hours and spent them wandering around The Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a textile design student in NYC in the 1990s, I would go to the Met on a semi-regular basis with the help of student passes and their amazing 'pay what you wish' entrance fee. Some days I went just to see my favorite painting, which was The Album by Edouard Vuillard. I would sit in front of it for a while and then head home. What a luxury – to be able to have the time and easy distance, to visit this museum whenever my heart desired. Memories of those pre-internet days, when a glimpse of a favorite painting were not a keystroke away, are so dear to me. I loved that in order to research a textile or sculpture, I had to go in person to see it, and then spend hours in the library hand writing notes, which I would type into a finished paper on my little portable word processor. There was a great sense of adventure and satisfaction in the long process. I noticed on this recent visit, that while I still love The Album by Vuillard, it's not so much the painting that I love now, but the vivid memories of how it made me feel on my frequent visits. It's comforting seeing it and being in a place where I spent so much un-rushed time. It's like sitting with an old friend or visiting the home of a beloved relative where you spent content days as a child. Each time I visit The Met as an adult, I find new favorites and am struck by the peacefulness of a place that is always so crowded with people. If you're lucky enough to enter an empty gallery, as I did when I happened upon The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, the stillness and wonderment of being alone in the company of such awe-inspiring art, is a gift that feels bestowed directly from the artists themselves.