Of course there are the standard school photos of me throughout the years. And I have some treasured pictures from some of my theatrical endeavors, covering the years from age 9 to 28.
But there are hardly any photos of me from the time when Z was a newborn through early elementary school. For one thing, I was always the one with the camera, ready to mark milestones, funny things, or even “just” everyday things. For another, my (now) ex wouldn’t think to take photos; I don’t have pictures of my pregnancy or right after Z was born — I couldn’t even get him to bring the camera or video camera to the hospital.
So, either I was taking the pictures, or there wasn’t anyone around to regularly snap a photo that I would have happened to be in.
As the years have passed, though, I find more and more that I step (okay, RUN) out of camera range when someone pulls out their iPhone. The excuses I go through are many: I don’t have any make up on, my hair is a mess, I haven’t lost weight, I don’t like what I’m wearing, I look especially bloated, blah blah blah blah. I simply don’t let anyone near me with a camera anymore.
Even if I had a selfie stick (which is so obnoxious anyway), I’d be too self-conscious of what would “make” a good picture, and snap endless versions, and thus lose the entire idea of a “snapshot” — literally, a sudden shot of life captured. These days it’s far too easy to “delete” photos digitally and do another take. And another. And another, until the moment has passed or everyone’s smile begins to look strained and through their clenched teeth they are yelling at you to “just hurry up and take it!”
So there aren’t many of the “everyday me.” The “me” I want Z to remember in years to come. Not the school pictures, not the costumed and made-up characters I was playing in the musicals, not even the posed pictures (ie, senior high school picture or a professional photo my sister and I had taken for our Dad one year).
Not to be morbid, but my hope is that when Z looks at photos of me after I die, he remembers not only how I looked at a particular point in time, but what I was like. If there are only “special occasion” photos, it colors the memories — not that special occasions aren’t, special, I just don’t want the only times he has an actual visual reminder to be more about the occasion than the people in the pictures.
In order to make that happen, I’ve realized that I need to let people take pictures of me. Otherwise, I have no one to blame but myself.
Come to think of it, though, there is a relatively recent photo of me, T, and Z that I adore. It is a selfie that Z took while we were on vacation on Kauai a couple of years back, and it caught us all smiling big about something silly. None of us even remember what was so funny, but it was a perfect moment. It was a kind of cloudy day, right on the ocean; I don’t have a lick of make up on, we’re all squinting into the camera a little, we’re all windblown… and I love it. It is the perfect photo of a perfect moment. Every time I look at it, I smile. That’s the picture — or one very much like it — I want Z to look at when I’m long gone and say “That’s my Mom.”
So I need to stop bolting anytime I see a camera make an appearance (but I can’t promise I won’t weed through the really dreadful pictures later and delete them). I’ll save the ones that are even marginally “meh” so that Z remembers me as a real person, the everyday me. The real me.
Until Friday, Friends. Say “CHEESE!”