I always have a hard time introducing myself, I am not really sure which thing someone might want to know.
Do you care about my past? How old I am? That I have one brother and spent long periods of time in summer perched on a specific branch in our front yard tree? The branches made a perfectly spaced V, I could actually recline. My daily suspension would have likely been called daydreaming, in the 1970’s, but now? Maybe it was meditation.
This photo above is courtesy of my son’s patience when I asked him to take a picture of me so I could update this website. I told him I wanted something that reflected me, so I wouldn’t have to explain everything. But also something natural looking, not staged, and with not too many wrinkles. It was a bright day for the impromptu photo shoot, snow on the ground, bright blue sky, my Cardinal in the pine tree.
“We could go outside to the backyard,” I suggested. I looked out at the bird-feeders. Maybe people would want to know that I feed the birds. My son could snap a picture of me filling them up. From that, they would know I care about nature, and global warming, that I recognize birds reliably, sometimes even in flight.
“Or, we could go for a quick hike,” I said. My nephew once took a picture of me at the top of a mountain. I look rugged and adventurous. I was proud of myself that day; how I made it to the top. That I did not let my fear of bears, getting lost before sunset or poison ivy stop me.
“Let’s take the picture inside,” my son said. “I don’t want to go hiking. Let’s try it right here, in front of the cabinet.”
“Won’t that be weird with no background?”
“It might be artsy,” he said. “Try not smiling, just look right into the camera.”
I did what he said. I stood still, tried to relax my shoulders and didn’t smile.
He showed me the burst of pictures he took. I did not look artsy. I looked awkward and self-conscious, not qualities I was willing to share with people I might not even know.
My dog came into the room. “Maybe we can take a picture with Olive in it,” I suggested. “And I will sit at my writing desk.” There was a mess of papers on it, an empty coffee mug from the morning.
“Let me just clean it up.” I picked up the piles and put them over on the dining room table. I went back to the desk, sat down and opened my computer as if I was working. I called Olive over. My son snapped a few pictures. They weren’t right, either. Was I petting the dog or writing? Plus, Olive is a Great Pyrenees and not a rescue which might make people think I don’t care about all the dogs that need a home. I do care about all those dogs. It makes me crazy just thinking about them. I got Olive because she was a “livestock guardian dog,” I needed her to protect my backyard chickens. It was not her strength, however, — my chickens got eaten — so now she is just a regular dog.
I went over and sat on the couch. I was wearing my cowboy boots because I like how they make me look sort of tough. I didn’t think they would make it into the picture, but Will said, “my photography friend from college said you always need to include feet in a photo.”
I didn’t argue.
“Try to furrow your brow a little bit as you’re working.”
That was easy. I have a ton of practice furrowing my brow because I am often 1/ deep in thought or 2/ deep in worry. I have a specialized furrow wrinkle to prove it.
He did another burst of pictures.
“Take a look,” he said.
I showed them to a friend.
“So serene,” she said.
Amazing, I thought. A photo that captured my big life goal, what I try to be about.
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