Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More snapshots

The chest I was re-organizing over the past weekend yielded more treasures, surprises, and memories than the photos of my mother I posted the other day. Even going back 18 years, as in the photo above (taken as part of my parents' 40th anniversary celebration), provided some jolts -- first of all, after marvelling at how fortunate I am in my family's good looks and health (sorry, but being falsely modest seems an ungracious acknowledgement of my blessings), I remembered how much I'd loved that outfit I'm wearing -- a two-piece of a surprisingly serviceable rayon, if I'm not mistaken, I think by Esprit, altho'it might be Mexx. . .

And finally, I note aspects of myself that I'm quite sure I didn't appreciate and revel in as much as I should have -- a firmness of chin and neck, just to give a simple example, or, say, an openness between brow and eye. . . I suspect that instead of revelling in these elements of my not-quite-40 looks, I complained about a few pounds here, a wrinkle there.

I also came across a studio portrait of myself at 17, about to graduate from high school, wearing the dress our neighbour had handed down from her daughter's prom, which we had altered for me but which I never wore because I wasn't asked. There were many contributing reasons for this, the usual adolescent torments compounded by the fact that I had transferred in Grade 11 to a co-ed school of 2700 students from an all-girls'private school of 140 and by my parents' strictness which forbade dating during high school (while I could have, would have, and occasionally did find ways around this, it kept me at the cautious fringes, without the skills to encourage or prompt any possible male to make the right move). At our school, there was a lottery for the dateless, but I wasn't desperate enough to take advantage of it -- instead, for years, I might even admit to decades, I was embarrassed -- ashamed, even -- to tell people that I hadn't gone to my prom because I didn't have a date. But my parents -- my mom, especially -- thought I should still get a photo of myself dressed as if for prom.

The photo's below, but let me build up to it by saying that, coincidentally, this weekend, I also came across a poem, "Snapshot," by Canadian poet Alden Nowlan (1933-1983) that I'd copied and pinned to a bulletin board quite a few years ago, and forgotten about:



It takes even more than this to make you cry
or laugh
aloud
when you are old enough
to find a forgotten snapshot of yourself,


take it up in your hands,
hold it close to the light,


discover slowly
and for the first time


that once
long ago
you were almost


beautiful.


If only she could have known . . .

If only we could convince our daughters . . .

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