As I went through the box, that I rescued from the top shelf, I found this manilla envelope of pictures.
At different points throughout my childhood, I’ve pulled these photos from the book my mother so tenderly assembled in order to get them in my hands, show them off, love on them, and reflect on their content. For projects or frames or presentations, I’ve taken these photos for a ride. And then failed to actually put them back where they belong. Hence, they’re stockpiled in an envelope.
All of these pictures were taken at this house. Top left to top right:
1. My second birthday, sitting in that big bulky high chair. I loved when my cousins came to town because Mom would pull this contraption back out and then I could play dolls with it for a few days after the real babies left. That is the dining room.
2. My parents bathroom. 4 years old. Mom tries to scold me for smearing her Mary Kay lipstick everywhere, but the fact that she snaps pictures while she does it is sort of contradictory. Mixed messages aren’t good for kids, Mom.
3. One year old, in our garden. This place has taken on many shapes, forms, and foliage over the years– it looks particularly well groomed this year.
4. LOVED that end table. Look how well I fit– I wasn’t really hard to entertain. I’m really still not. Take note of the green carpet– we replaced that about halfway through our time here. One of those kinds of things that seems like a good idea in 1989, you know? I should note that my parents actually found them building this house in time to customize things like that nice carpet and the french doors that can be partially seen in this photo.
5. Myself and my sister, Emily, on what I believe to be my 6th birthday. Side ponytail, noah’s ark vest and all. This iwas back when we *really* didn’t look anything alike– nor did we get along 60% of the time. Mom and Dad always said we would become really good friends when we got older and I really looked forward to that day. Happy to say I’m living it. (This is also in the living room.)
6. This is my crib, which I was quite fond of. The story goes that I could sit in this thing for minutes if not hours just cooing at my hands while Mom could do some work around the house or catch a little more sleep. When I did decide I wanted out, though, I apparently could let out a good wail. For Mom or for Luke. In the beginning this was my nursery (decorated with lambs, as you can see in the photo), Luke and Emily shared a room, and there was a communal playroom. Then Luke got to move into what was the nursery and Emily and I shared a room. For about a month, give or take. Something about how I talked her ear off or something. So I was successfully annoying enough to get my own room– and have Em willingly give up the idea of a playroom just to get some peace and quiet in her own room.
It’s weird looking back at these pictures, because while I don’t remember a lot of what was happening around the time these were taken, I distinctly know their setting. And I clearly know their subject.
Seeing these reinforces to me how much that setting shaped this subject. While it’s clear that I’ve grown and changed, I don’t necessarily feel disconnected from the “little me” in these pictures. It’s like we don’t realize the passing of time until we ponder that it is passed. Past. I don’t feel necessarily older until I see myself so much younger in these pictures.
In this collection and in my life, the house has been such a source of continuity. Times have changed and more often than not, Dad is greeting us at the door– we’re no longer heralding his return from work. Little things like that constantly changing. Same house.
Which isn’t all that depressing, it’s just that moving is now a huge marker of time for me.
So many pictures taken within these walls. No pictures taken within these walls. There’s no way to soften that contrast. In a way I didn’t know, my home offered this sense of same-ness. I felt like the same little me over the passing of time because I walked the same halls, brushed my teeth in the same sink, stole clothes out of the same closet and retreated to the same office.
A new house makes me see that I’m not the same little me. It makes me view the contrasts and creates a marked line between what was and what is. Which is not bad. It’s just new.
A new little me.