Hashtag Throwback Thursday. Here is a photograph of me with my brothers and sister on the east side of Buffalo, New York, sometime in the late 1970s. I am a milk belly with a mop of yellow hair in hand-me-down clothes. I am new with wonder. My life is being taught to me in drips and drops by my brothers and by my sister, though they don’t know they are teachers. Everything they do is hilarious, and everything they do is serious, even the hilarious. Everything they do is confident. They take the path and see where it goes and I follow. This is the song. It is a ring of a big bodied guitar and a bass groove. This is the song I want to sing. I sing a song for them, for the them of this photograph that were the cops and robbers. The army men and nurse. The Jim Craig tending the goal in the Gold medal game. To the them that were the skateboard freaks, carousel eyes, and cassette tapes. The them that were leather jackets, stolen cigarettes and sucker punches. The boot steps in deep snow that I stepped into. I sing a song for them and for the freedom of childhood. For the treed streets that became sets in the movie that was our lives. This throwback Thursday is for the comfort of laughter. The hardness of rocks. The cuts, and bruises and scratches of play. The drenched wetness of rain. The elasticity of time. For the impossibly long days of bicycle rides to fields with snakes. The glass dishes of penny candy in the corner store. The anything is possible possibility of the day.
Hashtag throwback Thursday. Here is a photograph of me circa 1984. The milk-fat of my baby years has disappeared in games of street hockey, bicycle riding, and general mischievousness. I am lengthening into awkwardness but haven’t noticed that about myself yet. Instead, I am sure of myself. Confident in the newfound freedom that library books secretly impart. Certain with the insights gleaned from careful observations of both the successes and failures of my brothers and my sister. I am a summer tan and beat sneakers and when I come to this photograph again and see myself, it is as though I am seeing myself for the first time. Joyce wrote "we walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves." This is what this photograph does for me. I see myself both stretching backwards and forwards in time. What is there to say about this photograph? There is nothing to say about this photograph. I am my mother and my father. I am my grandmother. I am my brothers and my sister. I am borrowed library books. I am my best friends. I am the backyard parties of my parents. The cigarette smoke and stories. I am the past and the future without knowing it. I am the precious moment between. Between youth and adult. Between then and now. Between confidence and doubt. Between new and rust. Between here and gone. In a click of a Kodak camera and the advance advance of the film I am stopped. This is what there is to say about this photograph. I am with my friend Doug. We have borrowed his mother’s car. We are parked near the Niagara River. I take a short path to a rock that I can jump off of and into a current that will pull me swiftly towards the falls. I am the cold water and the pulling of the current. I am summer and sunshine. I am the fish and the seagulls. I am the rocks that have traveled from Lake Superior to here which tumble on the river bed below and then drop from the height on their way to Lake Ontario. I am the river bank and the cool air. I am all of this and have no understanding that in some distant place I will forget this sometimes. You do. You forget that it is all here for you sometimes. You forget that the ordinary is extraordinary and you forget that it all disappears, or maybe you try not to remember that it does. It comes back to you though, in bits and pieces. In the way a song starts. In the way a river runs. In the way the light rises and then slips away. In a letter, or text. or post. In a jog of memory that the laugh of the person you love most brings back to you, and in a photograph of the you you were and the you you are and continue to be.