My imaginary friend

When I was about five I had a friend who’s name was B. He was, in a way, the first friend I ever had and everything about him is vivid to me. He had soft blond hair with a rolled curl at the top and he wore clothes that were loose fitting. He looked like a very young child, large head, small body, but he was able to do the things one would usually associate with being a grownup: reading me stories,  holding my hand at the crossings, helping me put my toys away.  My mother told me that he was an imaginary friend  and we left it at that. B’s physical appearance may have been influenced by a book my godmother gave me for Christmas about a guardian angel who did all sorts of companionable things and also participated in miniature tea parties with the dolls of the household. The illustrations were what I liked best about that book.
One day the ladies of the guild came to tea and I was commissioned to help serve tiny little pink cakes to them while my mother was bustling around in the kitchen. In the parlor, there were two places set for me at a small end table. Out of boredom, I guess, I began to talk to B, to remind him to behave and so on. One of our guests asked me if B wouldn’t like some cake too. I said, no …he didn’t have any teeth except for imaginary teeth.
In the next few years my younger brother, Yates, took most of my attention away from B. However, B never left me completely. He grew up too and, thankfully evolved beyond his angelic appearance into an interesting man with a beard like Walt Whitman’s. He was a welcomed presence in my studio, patient, ever open yet willing to present an alternative viewpoint. In painting or sculpting, I check with him frequently as I squint my eyes and walk closer then farther away from my painting. What do you think;  is that green too acid? Is the texture overworked?  Can you read that as space? That kind of thing.
Now my brother is a sculptor and I’d much rather talk to him about my work than B. But he lives in Boulder…while B is always extremely accessible.

Yates and Frances Lansing, 43 Belair Road, Staten Island

Yates and Frances Lansing, 43 Belair Road, Staten Island