2020 has been such a strange year. So many changes personal and national and worldwide. That feeling of being out of time, in a holding pattern, sheltered in place. But that also breeds introspection and resolution and personal change. I’m leaning into my present and the future which I hope to experience and thinking less of past and posterity.
My mood of examining and then putting away my oldest posts remains strong. I’m growing more centered in my present self and less in other people’s perception of me.
So I turn to some pictures of my toddler years. A studio portrait, open-faced, cheerful, curious, unguarded. A light colored turtleneck shirt—such as would remain a go-to item in my wardrobe for decades to come—under a short dress with a decorative front reminiscent of a band uniform. Brass buttons and loops around them from a placket down the center front. Bare legs. Straight hair to my waist and choppy bangs.
A blurry picture of me and my cousin. She is smiling and posing. I look serious and concerned. Both of us with bangs. Moderne furniture (not the house I grew up in, seems to be that of my cousin’s family), bookcases, some kind of pet cage in the background. I’m holding the fingers of one hand with the other and I have to wonder if the animal in the cage in the back (rat? rabbit? kangaroo rat?) gave them a nip when I stuck my fingers where I’d be told not to put them. I do have a little bit of “am I in trouble?” in my expression, it seems to me, while my cousin looks charming and friendly in her pretty red top. Ah or perhaps I’d been sucking my thumb, a habit it took considerable effort to break.
Me in a flannel nightgown (red as I recall) thumb in mouth, trying to stay awake (or wake up?) in my father’s lap as the grown-ups talk. Me in the same nightgown, mouth open, groggy sleepy face, possibly in the morning. Me, same nightgown, conked out completely, thumb still in mouth, across my father’s lap, my mother resting her head, eyes closed, on his shoulder. He has a bit of a dopey grin which suggests to me this may have been later in an intoxicating evening. A somewhat psychedelic-meets-art-nouveau poster curls from the plaster wall behind them. Looks like they’re sitting on a mattress on the floor. She’s got a hairdo that’s starting to unwind from its proper arrangement.
My sweet, sleepy-faced mother, her hair now straight and tousled as though slept in and her dark floral shirt now a plain light-colored shift, smiling at the photographer, love and tiredness in her face. I am in the nightgown, OTHER thumb in mouth, cuddled up against the side of her. My cousin, in a cute dress, barrette in hair, is wriggling around and holding one foot in the air with her hand.
My cousin and I playing with some sort of activity board with things to turn and slide. My hair is in two ponytails on the side of my head and with the bangs it’s the most normal-American-kid looking style I can recall wearing. Most of my childhood and well into adulthood it was long, straight, parted down the center and rough at the ends. My cousin has the same hairstyle, probably her mom did both of us, and is looking at the camera with her tongue completely covering her upper lip. Maybe she’s concentrating because it looks as though she may be about to try to move around like a crab, arms and legs under herself. She always was more physically bold than I.
Me between some of the youngest of my mother’s cousins, elementary school age, me the toddler, and tween. I always called the boy, who is looking at a book with me in this picture, Cousin, and we played together every time I got the chance on a visit to their area. We’re sitting on the back steps of my great-grandmother’s white clapboard house. I’m wearing a t-shirt and a diaper and my hair is in ponytails on the sides again.
Now there’s a cardboard fort and I think I’m trying to put some sort of a purse or bag around my bigger “cousin”‘s head, while the older relation reads a book sitting in a folding chair surrounded by small toys. Looks like everyone is letting me be in charge. 🙂
Me and my cousin displaying our divergent styles and love of playing together. We’ve got a dollhouse and a toy radio. I’m wearing a green hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and long pants and sneakers. She’s wearing a short tropical print sleeveless dress and is barefoot. The photographer has caught my attention and captured my happy expression, eyes shining in play as I hold a doll. My cousin has her hand on her cheek, chin tucked down, giggling I think. And as I look at this I hear her dear giggle from the last time I heard it on the phone. I should call her. 🙂