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  • It came packed in a shoebox, as a decoy. I like a gift that announces itself slowly. Where you have to ask, is there anything good in here, or just sneakers? A good gift can hide itself under a pile of crumpled newspaper and be better for it, but it really better be good. Nothing is more disappointing than a thoughtless gift in time-consuming wrappings.

    I remember one day we went to get something for it. Maybe it was the tele, maybe something Dad didn't end up buying. A dealer, used and vintage, second floor. I remember stairs, a man with glasses, waiting. I can't recall anything else. I'm not sure there's much to recall. An empty memory. Still, I think of it whenever I'm at Union Square. It's strange how such wisps hover close to the surface.

    Dad has gone digital, and I'm going back the other way. The timing feels symbolic. I'm questioning all the objects in my life, interrogating them about their value. Are they worth the care I give them, the space they take up, the energy they demand? If they are not practical, are they beautiful? If not beautiful, are they joyful? Ugly, impractical delights have a sparing role in a life. Like salt.

    Suddenly, I'm aware that time is going very fast. Is it my age, or my way of living? Speedy Gonzales. Always in a hurry. Quiet, slow, and clear, the Leica promises a new way of seeing. I fumble with it gratefully. I expect no magic. I look to this old, beautiful, practical thing for a kind of joy that is new to me. Patience.

    It will always be Dad's Leica. I'm just a caretaker, which in truth is the best relationship you can have to a thing that is loved.

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