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I'll tell you what my job is. In this press of humanity, in the hustle the rush of vanity and necessity and desperation, of comedy and tragedy and frustration and indifference, I paint trees. Trees, and rivers that sparkle like glass, and moons and snow-topped mountains not too far away, and sunshine and meadows and hidden trails and hills and flowers and forgotten wells and welcome places you can be, when you want to, and feel like a part of

a beautiful world. That's my job. I've never described it before, but that's how I'd say it. I am that shining moment when people feel they are themselves, I am that mirror of what they know they really are, and how they'd love to be if only dinner weren't already late, if only the credit limit hadn't been exceeded or their house foreclosed upon, if only they hadn't changed the styles just when their wardrobes were complete. That is all I am, and all I ever want to be.

My son is different. Like I'd want him to be the same as me? I paint the untamed peak, the rambling trail, the wild and growing green ..! No, that's me of twenty years ago. Even Nature has its sweet and comforting order, I've realized, its beautiful seasons, each inheriting the fruits of the last. So yeah, part of the rebel in me is gone, and I admit I'd like to see a little of me in him. But he's 19 and restless. Like his mother used to be. Like I used to be! God, he's so unjaded that the bright colors of love and the world pierce right through him, put a grumbling in his stomach, always hungry. He sees bright things in the world and wants their love. He wants to know how to get it. I love him, but I'm too close to him right now for that to mean much. I can't say anything right, can't do anything right. I just let him be. My shiny worlds don't move him much. He knows too much about where they come from, and he knows that they can't help him buy his own car, the latest

clothes, or that brand of aftershave that drives girls wild. And I don't blame him. I never said they could do that. I never promised but maybe I pretended? Maybe some world-weary customers thought that, and I knew they thought that, and I let them? Maybe I have done that, maybe he's seen me do it.

I get home from a slow day — too close to people's bill time for much business — wait til next week. But I've got my own masterpiece to come home to. I paint glimpses of paradise for everyone else in 30 minutes or less (guaranteed), but at home I've got this painting I can never complete. I'll eat dinner then sit down and stare at it some more. Maybe take out the brushes, cover a few things up, add some others.

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