I never met my grandfather, and I’m not sure why, of all the masterpieces in the Prado, he picked this one. But my aunt suspects that the three figures represented something special to him, and reminded him of himself and his two closest coworkers, fellow World War II veterans, and drinking buddies.
Ever since I can remember, these drunk guys have been smiling at me from the wood-paneled wall above my grandmother’s kitchen. The reproduction was the first painting I ever saw. And in some kind of strange coincidence or twist of fate, one of my uncles turned out looking just like the drunk guy on the left as an adult.
I wrote most of this essay in January of this year, and I didn’t realize how much I’d think about this painting in the months since. In early March, I became sick. I was hospitalized just as Spain entered its national confinement, and I fell ill again during the peak of the outbreak. What’s happened has left me weaker than I’ve ever been, and I continue to struggle with my recovery.
In the darkest times, when the present moment and feelings of uncertainty have overwhelmed me, I’ve pulled from the rich, safe, stable place of my memory. And the place that I go to most often in my mind when I need to escape is to my grandmother’s little house by the railroad tracks in Schertz, Texas. There I am, back on her flowery couch. As my mom and grandmother chat softly beside me, I look up at The Drunks. “Come on,” they seem to say through their mustachioed grins, “there’s plenty of life left to live.”