Thursday, March 16, 2006


Something makes me want to check the photo album. I do it every so often, looking for clues, trying to bridge the disconnect from myself that I sometimes feel. The memories are mostly sweet. Summer day photos, sometimes smiling (mostly pouting) of me in a red polka dot dress and t-bar shoes. Yellowing portraits of cousins I've never met and uncles and aunts that are nothing more than faces in albums. There is so much I don't know, nor will ever know, about this family of mine. Much is glossed over and waved away with the flick of a hand "oh that's not important", "oh I don't remember anything about that". I have no idea who I am, and that's a scary thing. How do you create a person from thin air? This could be my problem.

I run my fingers across the edges of happier times, before I was born or just after. My father with a smoke in his hand and my mother in a flowery dress holding me in her arms, in a christening gown. And there are a few others, smiling poses, hugging shots: I guess photos don't really show where the cracks are - you smile, you put your arms around eachother - the move is a reflex. Except me, of course - who pouts with wet lips in almost every shot. Scared of the lights on the camera or crying, or just grumpy - what a difficult child! I remember being prodded and poked or tickled to smile, but I wouldn't have a bar of it. Don't tell me what to do! I only really smiled later, probably after 2 or 3, when I realised that's what people wanted to see. The photos before then are very telling.

It's the solo picture of my father I come back to most. He is young and handsome and smiling. The colours have faded to orange and black. Somehow the photo means a lot, though I never knew him then. It fades a little more each year - every time I look at it, it seems that he is dissapearing. Soon it will be a shadow on a piece of paper. I hope my recollection does him justice.