Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Photo on the Wall

There she stood, youthful smile and soft hair, the sunshine-filled tropical paradise behind her.  Framed lovingly and prominently displayed, the photo spoke of another time and a radiant joy.  As I waited for Little G to get her things after a sleepover, I turned to the mom of the hosting child and asked, "Was this you?"  After a wistful smile and a gentle glance at the photo, she answered, "Yes, yes...that was a long time ago, of course."

I, too, have a picture like that.  When My G and I were dating, we had photos done.  He's in his uniform, PV2 chevron and all.  I'm in a little black dress that made me feel amazing.  My hair is long, and oh, so golden.  We are so positively, achingly young.  Sometimes I just stand and look at the portrait and I smile.  It's a little wistful, a little happy-- there is a fondness for the girl in the photo and that bright open smile she has.

Growing up, my mother had a photo like that, too.  It was taken while she and my stepfather were on their honeymoon, and she stands by a bridge and her smile flirts with the camera.  While that marriage did not last, there is a genuine happiness and confidence in her smile that transcends the relationship.  When I was younger, I could not understand why she kept that photo in their room.  Why would she want to look at a photo of just herself, I wondered.  She wasn't and isn't a vain woman.

I think I understand now.  There is a need, at least among women, to touch base with the selves we were during the happiest moments of our lives.  It reminds us of the women we  were then-- confident, sure, happy, secure.  In moments of great triumph, we can look at these photos and tell our past selves, "Hey, we did it!"   In moments of struggle or challenge, we look at those photos for inspiration, to remind ourselves of our once-great and versatile strength.  We can remind ourselves what we have been through since that happy day, what moments we have already overcome. And once again, we can keep on.

I hope my daughters will both have photos like these of themselves.  Whether they hang the images on the wall or keep them in a drawer for moments of quiet reflection, I hope there are many times when the camera will quietly capture youth, and joy, and strength.  Years later, I pray those traits will be a comfort and a reminder of the amazing people they were, who they are, and who they will someday be.

Old photos can act as mirrors to our past selves.

1 comment:

  1. Post the picture! I love this blog. it is so very true!! I have a few that are like that for me.