My son is already 15 years old and if you were to look at his life in photographs, you’d wonder if he had a mother at all. I would always, craftily, position myself behind the camera taking hundreds of shots of Carlos and my husband Doug. This has been a huge bone of contention between me and Doug. “You’re like, the invisible woman! Why don’t you let me take a picture of you and Carlos for a change?” I would smile and change the subject, only complying when he managed to pry the Canon PowerShot from my hands. Then I would shield my widening body with whoever I could pull in front of me or whatever object I could hide behind. Later, thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I would delete the images of myself, one by one, erasing myself from the event, from the family as if I was never there.
It is amazing how someone so big could be so adept at disappearing.
At home I had pretty much managed to erase them all, but last week I was searching through photos at work, flipping through images of last year’s VCFA event at the Bowery Poetry Club when I saw it. It was a photo of me, but it wasn’t. It couldn’t be, could it? I was standing on the stage in October of 2011, addressing 100+ of the College’s alums, faculty, students, and staff during a reception. I was wearing my sassy boots and had bought a new dress for the occasion. I remember feeling pretty good that night, but as I gaped at the photo my heart sank. I was HUGE! Had I really looked like that? How on Earth could I have gotten up in front of all those people looking like that? How could I bear to leave my house?
A colleague was passing by my office when she heard my gasp. She stopped to ask me what was wrong, and I closed in on the image. “I just…can’t believe I looked like that!”
She tried to cover it up, but she was surprised too. “Wow, yeah. But everyone takes a bad picture now and again, Ann! “
“I know, but really! I was huge!”
She smiled, “But doesn’t it feel good to look at that now? Think about how far you’ve come!” My colleague patted me on the shoulder for a job well done and continued on her way.
But I couldn’t stop looking at the photo of last year’s me. And I could tell you that it definitely did not feel good. But why?