I am feeling simultaneously hopeful for the web, as Twitter stumbles and the Fediverse blossoms, and sorrowful, as hate and targeted abuse rise. It makes me want to gather my online skirts closer around me, to give fewer places for ill-meaning others to tug at me.
But also I am a Discardian, and it doesn’t take unpleasantness to make me want to bid farewell to (or honor, package up, and put away in private) something that no longer serves me in the present.
I’m closing up the oldest posts. Pictures of me as a muddy kid, a sandy beach-exploring kid. Turtlenecks and corduroy pants or lightweight denim. Off-brand Keds style shoes with my toes about to grow through the front. Long tangled hair. Bangs chopped to reveal my face. Out in all weather, making up stories, looking at the interesting things in the world.
Happy granddaughter in the above-ground swimming pool in the hot central valley summertime. Using wading pools as pool floats in the bigger pool. With an older girl I vaguely recall, from next door maybe.
Back at home with my cousin holding stiffly still for a photograph, interrupted in our play. Bare knees, tan as I ever get. Sun-lightened hair from playing outdoors. Standing in planter dirt, probably a future planting around the pond fixture my parents built. A big truck toy of which I have no memory, and two playhorses of which I have many. The chair that still is in use at my parents’ dining table brought outside, perhaps for a grown-up to keep an eye on the kids. I love the ordinary kidness of us in this picture.
Camping with Grandma and Grandpa. Again with my cousin, both of us with our long straight hair, but in this my bangs are brushed aside. A shaggy little elfin child, next to my more average sized cousin. She snacks, I read, Grandma gazes at us, affection and tiredness. All of us wear extra layers against the cool day. Grandma has a knit cap and stripey jeans. I can almost smell the dusty ground of a campsite under redwood trees. Ah and that’s not a fur trim on my coat, it’s one of my pet rats. Was this a day trip? or did I actually take a rat camping? Sweet indulgent family. Perhaps Grandma’s expression is about the rat; probably not her favorite pet.
Maybe the same trip, me my mother, my grandmother. The making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Me watching, drinking from a tin cup. My mother’s hair long and straight, falling in front of her face as she looks down.
A summer month long ago, memories only anchored to that point in time by old photos. Distant, pleasant enough, but slippery and distant.
I wrap them in virtual tissue and pack them away. I live here, now.
Fast forward to the fall of that year. A truly lovely picture of most of the family, only adequate of Grandma, and possibly one of the worst pictures of me. It’s like child Dinah as played by Will Ferrell or something. Perhaps I’d just eaten my weight in pie. I’m not sure a single one of us is wearing something we’d wear today—ah, the 1970s—except perhaps my cousin who looks completely cute and whose sunny personality shines through so clearly in this picture. The picture of a group of ancestors behind my grandparents hangs in my parents’ house today. I can’t speak to those forebears, but I got lucky with my family. Most people in this picture were gathered for Thanksgiving this year too.
The faded yellows of an old photo can’t hide the incredibly bright and busy patterns of the long dresses made for my step-sister and I by my grandmother as Christmas presents. For some reason in this photo of us posing in the dresses, I am wearing galoshes. Perhaps we just pulled these high-collared long-skirted garments on over our run-to-the-park-and-play clothes? Old car behind us, I think a decade older than the era, but I don’t know cars, but the van immediately behind is the 1948 bakery truck my parents got and never quite brought to its full envisioned glory. It made a nice playroom though, even when it was parked on a gravel area in our back lot before they finally sold it years later.
Sometime in the early 70s a family photo of us all with long hair and hippy-ish clothes visiting Golden Gate Park. One of the few with me and my two step-siblings. Not sure if they were living at our place or it was just an outing. Funny to think I live in San Francisco now, have lived here for two decades. Another decade and I’ll have been an SF resident longer than my mother was old in this picture. Time is such a rubberband, so distant often, and then some little thing will contract it right up with vivid proximity.
But the elastic begins to lose its springiness with time. The photographs sometimes bring things back, yet often emphasize the distance. Nothing wrong with the distance. Let it go, let it go.