Friday, October 01, 2004


There's a photo I've been thinking about. It's not a great picture, but it carries loaded meaning for me. It's a picture of the boyfriend sitting on the front porch of my brother and sister-in-law's rented home when they lived in the country just outside a California 'burb. The house was just minutes away from all of the conveniences of suburbia, but it felt far removed. It was taken during a visit seven years ago. They haven't lived in that house for years. It was the year the boyfriend was touring with Joe Louis Walker, and we spent a few days visiting my brother and sister-in-law after boyfriend played a gig in the Bay Area.

I've been thinking about that photo because I've been visualizing the environment I'd like to have when we move to California. It might not be 'practical' to assume we could have a country-type place when we first arrive. But it sure would be nice to have a little breathing room at some point. After living in this setting the last few years, it's hard to imagine living in a place where we'd have to listen to noise and neighbors and traffic.

This morning before work I pulled out the airtight container that has most of our snapshots. There are stacks of photos in there, in no particular order. Once in a great while we'll be looking for something and we start rifling through them and getting them all mixed up as we pass them back and forth exclaiming, "Oh! Remember this?"

Boyfriend was already at work this morning when I was going through the photo box. I didn't have much time, but I was determined to find that photo. I wanted to pull it out to use it as a touchstone, a visualization aid. I started picking up stacks of snapshots and flipping through them...and watched a decade of our joined lives zip by. It was a really nice sensation, and it occurred to me that maybe I should use that box of photos more often for just that purpose--to escape into a quick trip through memory fantasyland. It was a nice way to start my day.

In the process I came across a picture of myself that I'd forgotten about. I hate to have my picture taken, so there are tons more photos of the boyfriend than of me, since I'm usually the one shooting (and there are loads of gig pictures). In this particular photo I'm standing on the beach in my hometown. Boyfriend and I have visited my family there many times, but it was taken maybe six or seven years ago. I'm wearing an oversized white cotton sweater that I had for years and black shorts. I've got my sunglasses on and I'm barefoot. My hair was still long and the wind has swept it across the left side of my face. My arms are thrust out and my (usually graceful) fingers are splayed. And my first thought when I saw it was: this is me. THIS. IS. ME. And I really, really needed that reminder this morning--right before heading off to a job that is the polar opposite of me. So much so that I tucked it into my bag and pulled it out a couple of times during the workday just to remind myself: this is me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course that picture is you. It's all you. Every word you've written is in that picture. I'd expect no other kind.

I hate having my picture taken too (that's why I couldn't post any magic boy pictures in my story). I don't think it's that I'm self-conscious. I think that I'd rather remember the story that way I think I remember it. Then again, I snap up photos of the kids all the time, a little action here, a little pose there, and I love them. Who knows? Maybe it's a fit of trying to be the master of the universe and the only way I can do it is by taking the picture myself.

Maybe that's the distinction between the storyteller and the listener, the poet and the paper, the wind and the oxygen.

- Mark

11:57 PM  

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