One of these days I would like to have a picture of the way my heart works or displaying some indication of a brain living inside my skull. In all of these years I have only seen maybe ten pictures of myself that didn’t make me want to cry. I am not pretty. I am not photogenic and I don’t expect miracles to come from a camera. They just show what they are told to show. By now I have come to hate photographs of myself and I’m sure what the camera sees is scorn, aggravation, embarrassment and maybe a little fear.
I have strong facial features. I look like my strong, hard working, no time for the shallowness of pursuing beauty relatives . When I was younger I fought the good fight. I colored my hair, fussed over make up, learned the secrets of womanhood and how to play the game. Win with wit, charm with easy laughter and most of all, like the people with whom I shared my life. I was told one by someone I loved that I was certainly not the classic definition of pretty but I was beautiful in my difference. It was such a wonderful thing to say that I remember it clearly some 40 years after the fact.
Age has gifted me with fine thinning hair, coarse skin, wrinkles, a turkey wattle, ever growing ears and nose, puffy eyes and a couple of witchy chin hairs just for good measure. My friends from school (long ago) are crowned with beautiful white as snow hair while my hair remains a kind of brown with patches of gray. They are beautiful, as they have always been, thin, graceful and kind. All of that radiates through a photograph like magic.
I don’t want someone ten generations from now to see a picture of me and dismiss me as that ugly old lady. I have one of those kind of relatives, a very old picture of a great x4 grandmother. She is raw boned, rail thin, and looks like judgment in a long dress. She might have been and probably was a very nice lady. I wish my first reaction to seeing her picture had been more compassionate. I think I said something about the danger of crossing that woman. Then I laughed. She deserved better from me.
I know a picture can’t say how much I loved rainbows or that I was rarely ever at home without a dog, cat or several of both. They will never know how much I loved my family or how much pride I felt just looking at their beautiful faces. A picture can’t tell how much I loved reading or the magic I felt from a few well chosen words strung together. It can never show the really bad dancing I do all by myself when I listen to the music of my life. It can’t capture laughter. It can’t capture me.
But I wish a photograph could tell a real and true story. I want ten generations from now to know I loved with all I have to offer and yeah, they should be glad they never crossed me on a bad day, too. I’ll be standing next to that old granny with the I dare you look on her face.