"Risk! Risk anything!
Care no more for the opinions of other, for those voices.
Do the hardest thing one earth for you.
Act for yourself.
Face the truth."
(New Zealand Short story author, 1888-1923)
As I've been looking through the old slide boxes and scanning photos of my dad into the computer, I have to admit I've enjoyed seeing Mini Merry ME in all her splendor. When my father was in his photography mode, I was the right age, or maybe just needy enough of his attention, to be his model. Oh, he always took birthday and Christmas pictures of everybody, the dog included, but there seems to also be a preponderance of photos of the skinny little girl with the funny looking bangs. It's possible that my older sisters were of an age to not want to sit on the red vinyl hassock or chow bench posing like Marilyn Monroe. To every thing there is a season, and I think the season of taking pictures of children is probably between three and ten. If they are younger than that, they can't hold still long enough to make the picture that is posed to perfection not look posed at all. If they are older, well they can cop an attitude faster than you can say "Say Cheese" and the picture that is supposed to be of one big happy family turns out to have a child in the back row with a frown that would make a driver's licence picture look good.
Most of the photographs of me as a child are taken at just the right age. At a time when, as Qn Dani says, "When We Knew We Would Be Queen's; Born To Take On The World."
I wonder if that is the reason I always enjoyed slide night. I'm sure the family commraderie was a part of. In my memory, those nights were sacrosanct. There was a kind of excitement in the air - not quite holiday mode, but festive. We each picked out our favorite place to sit, there was no bickering, ie. "she touched me", even if feet or arms invaded another sister's space. Dad was in charge of the slide projector, mom sat back with her cup of coffee, maybe the first time all day she'd been off her feet. We were patient even when bent slides got stuck in the machine, or were turned upside down. I suppose we all had our favorites (probably the ones of ourselves). I remember JoJo, dressed in a blue tutu walking in the posie parade, and Linda in her navy blue graduation dress that I thought was the most stunning thing a 6th grader could wear. Even before I knew what being exotic was all about, I knew Mom was nothing short of glamorous with a hibiscus behind her ear or swimming with Jo and Linda in a sun drenched Guamanian beach. Judy, toddled around in corduroy pants or a fancy dress and funny looking, by anybody's standards (what was my Mother thinking?) Easter hat. And then there was the many moods and faces of me, when I wasn't me at all but still known as Carolyn.
What was it about seeing myself as a child that I enjoyed so much? What I know now, that I didn't know on those nights of my not always comfortable childhood, was that the slides and the showing of the slides represented good times. Times when the family looked the way I wanted it to look, needed it to look. Times that made the scary times more of a dream than a reality. I'm not saying my childhood was all scary or sad or not good, but there were dark times - times when the "funk" in dysfunctional outweighed the "fun". Slide night, like birthdays or Christmas, was always good.
I smile now when I look at that little girl with so much promise, so much to offer the world. Even then wanting to please people. Especially the man holding the camera. Knowing what I know now about her life, I kind of want to cry. But looking beyond that child's sense of fashion style, her ability to wear slightly jagged Mamie Eisenhower bangs, or reindeer antlers and make them look good, can you see her beauty and strength? She is, I think, as Dani says, at an age before the world got a hold of her and started telling her she wasn't the "all that" SHE knew herself to be.
I think what I saw on slide night, without having a name for it, was the heart of the girl. All through my ages I wanted to embrace that girl. Even when I was denying her because I listened to what the world had to say, a place deep inside me wanted to hold the little girl in the light. Is that where depression comes from? From putting more stock in what others have to say than what you know to be true? From being too scared to say, hey wait a minute, that's no way to treat a queen?
I guess there is also the very real possibility that I enjoyed slide night because I was just so darn cute. I swear, I feel like I could just rip off my shirt, throw on my butterfly wings and dance around the living room and feel the carefree joy of being ME.
Wishing for you the ability to see yourself as you were made to be
aka Carolyn, Mary the Fair Heartmeyer, or what I answer to most these days May-Ree