I got an email from my friend Caleb. His twelve year anniversary was coming up and he wanted me to draw a scene from each year that he could turn into a book to give his wife. I'm glad I said yes because it proved to me I'm still capable of emotions.
He sent me photos and some details on what each setup should be and I got to work. I didn't expect it to affect me but bit by bit I was drawn into their story. It's not that it was a spectacular story, or filled with intrigue. It was just two people going about the business of trying to enjoy each other and build a family.
So I drew the honeymoon, then them getting a dog. There was the first baby and in the next frame there was the second. It wasn't just family triumph's but funny mundane stuff: a terrible family vacation and a weird Halloween. Also, the sad: The dog about to be put down in a vet's office as a terrible, ironic song played.
As I drew I tried to picture each scene, tried to sketch in some emotion into their stances. I felt like I was getting to know these total strangers. It seemed a little wrong to be glimpsing into these private moments and be privy to their emotions (which I was totally imagining.) At one point I was totally choked up. It might have been the cocktails and sad music I had playing, but it was also getting to briefly pretend I was part of the life these two had made for themselves.
It's a rare project that comes along that let's you feel all these passing emotions as you sketch. And rarer still, I think, that someone would include the memory of a fight in their anniversary gift: the two of them on a couch, her clearly upset. And him saying, "If this is as bad as it gets we're doing really well." That's my favorite panel.
Occasionally it feels really great to be jealous.
Caleb was nice enough to let me post some of the drawings: