Monday, December 2, 2013

Existential Crisis, Party of One?

Going home for the holidays is an exercise in memory-keeping for me.  Here is the living room where we opened countless Christmas gifts.  Here is the garage step that used to wobble and make my heart stop when I descended.  Here is the closet where Grandma always kept her sewing kit, the drawer that keeps all the old pictures.

My nostalgia extends to my husband’s family, where the memories are newer for me, but no less poignant.  We watch a fiftieth wedding anniversary video, compiled of snapshots and moving music.  The black and white photos and the life stories they bookmark fill my eyes with tears.  These are other people’s memories, yet my throat catches as I watch with people who remember them.

We come home, my mind and heart filled with family and love and a little bit of desperation to get away from the fullness of living rooms and kitchens and back to my own spaces and the present.

I look in the mirror and there I am.  I have color treated hair not for style, but to cover the white that is swiftly taking over.  It intrigues me.  My mother’s hair is white.  My grandfather’s hair was white for years before he died.  I am carrying the torch for white haired people in my family.

But, no.  My hair is brown.  All those pictures.  I have brown hair.  I am the only daughter in my family, the girl who got the tip of her thumb cut off in the garage door when she was three, the one who got lost at the Farm Show.  The one who looked more like her cousins than her own brother.  I have brown hair.  Now everyone says I look like my mother. 

I feel like I did in my parents’ house growing up, but the mirror reflects a different person.  My memories do not match the image I see.  Today my neck hurts almost constantly, a pain from some over-zealous exercising done almost a year ago.  The girl in my memories has no pain.  As a kid I don’t remember feeling pain, nor hunger, nor cold.  Yet I tell my kids to eat, be careful, put on a coat, you’ll catch a cold.

When did this happen?  In my mind I am me.  Out of my mind I am their mother, his wife, their daughter, their sister, their friend.  To them I am out of my mind.  To me I am me.

It’s just life, they say.  It happens to everyone.

I guess it does.

Once a brooder, always a brooder.

21 comments:

  1. I guess we see ourselves, always a little differently from how others perceive us, yes?
    I think so.
    I like the broody picture.

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    1. Thanks. I agree with you - we do see ourselves differently. It would be nice to hear just what others think on a regular basis, just to keep things in perspective.

      Then again, I'm not sure I want to know what everyone thinks of me. ;)

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  2. I enjoyed your memories and the fact that you remember yourself as a brown-haired girl with no pain. I often feel the same - how did I get to this point?!

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    1. Yes - how did I come to get like this, when I still feel like a kid?

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  3. I don't see you as a brooder - I see you as a happy, silly, amazing woman! You're so right about the memories - they overtake us sometimes.

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    1. Aww, thank you, Kristin! I am happy and silly but can brood a day (or week) away without much prompting. I'll take your word for it on the amazing part. You are sweet. xoxo

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  4. super cute picture. even if you refused to smile at the camera ; ) thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Corie! I'm sure whatever I was upset about in the picture was totally warranted and not an exaggerated emotion on my part at all. :)

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  5. Perhaps, in this picture, you were already worried about the poor turkeys not understanding their own deliciousness. Or wishing you were wearing a sweet suit instead of a polka-dot dress.

    Either way.
    I get the existentialism, the desperation for your own spaces after the full rooms of others, even when they overflow with love.

    Memory-keeping. It's a big job.

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    1. Well, that picture was taken for a holiday, so there's a good chance that I was brooding about the turkeys. My brother was wearing a sweet suit, wasn't he? I'm sure my mother made it for him. She was always ahead of her time in the fashion department.

      And yes, memory-keeping is a big job. Thanks for being there with me. :)

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  6. Sometimes it feels strange when I catch those quick glimpses of myself in a reflection and I wonder when my mom came into town.

    Being around certain places and definitely around certain people transports my mind back to an earlier time, but my body stays the same. That inner teenager now is in a body with two bad knees.

    Thank you for expressing that inner/outer conflict so well.

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    1. Ha! I have started doing double takes of pictures of myself - I could swear it was my mother.

      Thanks for the kind words. :)

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  7. Often when I just catch a glimpse of myself in an unexpected mirror I don't recognize myself at all. It's difficult to reconcile, isn't it.

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    1. It sure is! Where did all those eye wrinkles come from, and when did they set up camp there?

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  8. I scare myself when I look in the mirror now. What happened to that girl. With no lines. And brown hair.

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    1. The thing that really alarms me is candid pictures of myself from strange angles. I almost don't recognize that it's me. My butt/arms/stomach/neck/hair/posture doesn't look like that ALL THE TIME, does it?

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  9. I'm totally a brooder, too. And you do look shockingly like your mother. But, you're a fabulous, unique creature all on your own. I bet you could totally pull off white hair, though.

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    1. Oh, I'd love to try the white hair. My hairstylist friends do NOT agree.

      I would never have thought that you are a brooder. :)

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  10. I often feel questioning when I look back too. Seeing the way I was, and the differences and yet still feeling like Me. So much changes, yet so much stays the same. Time is weird, isn't it?
    Love that photo. :)

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I can't get a handle on how much changes every day. Time IS weird,

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