I tend to say hello to places by sketching them. This is the door where Vincent van Gogh lived with his brother Theo near my "regular" neighborhood in Montmartre. I buy my meusli across the street and always say hello. I went by while I was up in the area and felt the need to sketch it again. This time a sweet older man came out of the door just as I was finishing up. There are always tour groups stopping outside, and the residents must be unbelievably sick of it, but he came to see my sketch and asked if he could take a photo. Then he asked if I'd ever been inside and if I would want to. He so kindly backtracked, opened that magic blue door, and ushered me into the courtyard beyond. It leads to a small alley between two walled gardens, and there are several more buildings that back up together in there. It's this lovely, quiet, secret spot.
We turned around to see the back of the house, and he pointed out Vincent's third floor window with the closed shutters. I wanted to sketch in there too but didn't feel I could ask. It was so kind of him to offer this to one more tourist camped outside his door. I was really touched.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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