An Affair by Deidre Murphy
There was no money to buy an upcoming birthday present. There was a paper box. There was a perfect image on the computer. There were my water colors. There was my paper collection.
Paper has fascinated me ever since I can remember. Every new piece intrigues me with its uniqueness, its smell, its texture, its shape, its color, its gloss, its weight even its imperfections.
I became enthralled with that first box. I had a vision of what it should look like. But somehow the box and paper had ideas of their own. What we created together was beautiful.
It was the perfect mating of shape and material for me. I became obsessed with making present boxes using my beloved paper.
Thoughts of the box’s person float in my head as I select, cut and glue. The instant I find the perfect image, the thrill is unimaginable. A paper matching a hint of a color in the image appears. My excitement mounts. I know this is meant to be. The box always has its say. I’ve learned to listen. Together we’ve produced amazing pieces.
Some boxes are quickly ready. I become impatient for a layer to dry so I can put the next piece on. Others are late. Pieces of paper scattered around, they sit staring at me. Something isn’t laying right or the color is wrong or the piece is too big. But eventually it all fits and the box goes off to its person. Sometimes the box arrives with money. Sometimes it just carries my good wishes.
For Christmas this year, images from my childhood dictionary inspired the boxes. A Funk and Wagnall published in 1910, it was encyclopedic with beautiful detailed colored plates of Flowers of the World, Birds of the Americas, Famous Diamonds, and Ancient Coins. I salvaged some more than 20 years ago when we finally tossed the decrepit thing out.
After I gave out the boxes, I told my siblings how they came to be. Of course, memories came up of Scrabble games, homework, and arguments ending with “look it up in the dictionary.”
My niece Fiona said, “I love the boxes you use, Aunt Deidre.”
She looked at me puzzled and said, “I know.”
“Thank you.” I finally answered her compliment. “I really enjoy making them for you.” She beamed at me and turned to one of her cousins.
Her puzzled look bothered me for a moment. Then I understood. Of course. She knows. They aren’t just boxes. They are my love.
Photo by the author