November 15, 2012
The Birthday Present
I'm so excited about this post today. I've been wanting to blog about this for a month, but I haven't been able to because I didn't want to ruin the surprise for Adam - which I sort of did anyway, because I'm a ruiner. But I'll get to that...
A few months ago I asked the wonderfully lovely, kind and talented artist Anna Emilia Laitinen to do a portrait of Adam and I for his birthday. I've been an avid reader of her blog and admirer of her work for longer than I can remember, so when Adam started taking more of an interest in art and looking through prints whenever we passed an art shop, I thought maybe he would like something original! He's always payed more attention to art that has very fine detail and lots to look at, so I figured, perfect!
Anna Emilia and I spent ages emailing back and forth to make sure the portrait was just right, right down to our favorite clothes. She posted it from Finland and I received it in time to wrap it in gold paper and hide it in my flatmate's closet for Adam to open when we got back from Amsterdam.
Now here's the part where freya-the-ruiner pops up, because I kind of told him about the painting before he could open it.
Here's how it happened: we were wandering the streets of Amsterdam when I started to get annoyed by a tour group who were walking too close behind us and being really loud - you know how people do that sometimes... So I grabbed Adam and we ducked into a shop which looked quite nice to have a look around and wait for the tour group to pass.
Much to my surprise, I spotted this print in the form of a card by none other than Anna Emilia herself! What are the odds? Because I'm a dummo, and because it seemed like a sneaky idea at the time, I pointed it out to Adam and asked him if he liked it.
To be honest, if his response had been anything less than "oh my goodness, I love it, I love everything about it, I want it, I want everything that artist has ever painted, oooooooh how I wish I had a portrait of the two of us by that artist..." I would have been a little crushed. Buying art for someone is tricky business, and nerve-racking too, so I was already a little nervous about his reaction and I had just set myself up.
He kind of gave a noncommittal answer (I mean, when has Adam ever said "oh my goodness" anyway?), got distracted by something else and started to leave the shop - I found out afterwards that the guy behind the counter was kind of giving him a weird vibe. This is all normal behavior, but I was left staring at him, obviously looking for something more. As we walked out I was a little quiet, and because he can tell right away when I am a little sad, he finally guessed what was happening through a series of questions which I tried to avoid answering. Adam can sniff out a secret like nobody else.
I had a picture of the painting on my phone which he insisted on seeing, and so right there in the middle of a busy Amsterdam street he got his birthday present - which, as it turns out, he really really loved. And when we arrived home he ripped off the paper and hung it on our wall.
It's a funny story with a happy ending, and I think a beautiful painting like that needs a story to go with it, but I also think from now on I should avoid surprises. I'm bad at them.