Six years ago on my 35th birthday, my sister took the above photograph for me. I wanted to submit it to a website called Dear Photograph. They published it on their website two years later. The idea is to “take a photo of a photo in the past in the present” in the same spot where the original photo was taken.
I was 3 months old in the baby photo, sitting in a rocking chair on my grandmother’s front porch way back in 1976. Nothing has changed about the house over the years, from the gray shingles on the outside to the red carpet in the living room.
My father and his siblings lived in this house as teenagers. My grandmother still lived in the house until her death in 1981. Afterwards, my aunt owned the house and rented it out over the years until finally selling it a few years ago. I still have fond memories of Christmas Eve’s there as a child.
I’m 41 years old now, and looking at this photograph now makes me feel miserable. I can’t believe how skinny I am in the photo compared to the size I am now. It’s kind of depressing. But getting old is depressing too.
Last week I had a conversation with a friend at lunch about how there aren’t a lot of photographs of me, at least not ones that I didn’t stage or ask to have taken. And as I get older, I’ve come to accept it and be okay with that. I tend to be the one always behind the camera rather than in front of it. We all accept roles in life, don’t we?
At Christmas at Mom’s it was always tradition to take lots of photos of each person opening their gifts. And you guessed it, I was usually always the one taking the photos. One year no one picked up the camera to take photos of me opening my gifts. I don’t think I even noticed, or cared, until Mom mentioned it months later when she was looking back at the photographs. I joked and said we could put the tree back up and rewrap all my gifts and stage some photographs. We didn’t. But eh, such is life.
We all accept roles in life, and some are behind or in front of the camera.