Ahhh, Memories (Or Lack Thereof)

It’s interesting the way a single picture can hide so much. It’s as if the photo is of a completely different person, who is simply posing as the actual subject in an attempt to fool those who see it into thinking they’re a far cry from who they really are.
I know a photograph akin to that.
It’s from 1991, November according to my mother’s writing on the back. (I see where Michael and I get our nice penmanship from.) Smiling radiantly in front is my mother, alluring as ever. On her lap is Michael, 3 years old at the time, smiling that 3-year-old smile that shows no pain. Off to the right of her is my brother Adam, 7 years of age, with a confused-yet-lovable look on his face. Next to him (and noticably taller for being just a year older) is my sister Amber, age 8. And then there’s my dad, with his dreadful (yet noticably gray-free and clear of large bald spots) 1990s haircut, smiling like only someone in love can. (He’s also wearing a suit, which I’ve never seen him do in real life. The color of it really clashes with his skin.)
If someone that didn’t know them, they’d say that they were a perfect, jubilant family. I was almost fooled.
I discovered this picture in my grandpa’s closet. I am undeniably not supposed to see it, much less keep it in my journal. It was around sixth grade when I found it, but I was scared to take it, so I left it there. Then, later, I decided to take it. I went back to the closet; alas, it was gone. Later on, in November of seventh grade, I resolved to take it. It was miraculously back in the closet. Since then, I’ve kept it on my person almost constantly.
Before discovering the “family secret,” I thought we had a happy family. The picture is that convincing. I blamed myself for the family falling apart, and in my mind I figured it was my birth that destroyed us. Only after I learned the truth did I understand how much a picture can lie.
Perhaps, I reasoned, we were happy. But not all the time. Maybe, like a normal family has those falling-apart moments, we had those put-together moments. I don’t know how they felt when the photo was being taken. I was six years shy of being born. They must have felt pretty good about taking it; it was in a real family picture studio. I’ve seen other pictures from that same session, and apparently my aunt and grandma (both on Mom’s side) were taking pictures with them, too.
I don’t know what my mother said to them beforehand. “Look nice or else?” “Let’s be pretty, guys! Oh, Mark, you look great in that suit! … Who chose Michael’s sweater?!!?” (The sweater really was revolting.) Whatever she said motivation-wise, it sunk in.
I keep this photo with me to remind me that even the saddest of families can be happy. Like the one I have now. We may be secretive and distant, but certain things bring us together: big dinners, re-runs of Becker, and funny cards on birthdays.

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2 thoughts on “Ahhh, Memories (Or Lack Thereof)

  1. Perla says:

    wow Ali i really enjoyd this post it remined me how a photo can say little but show so much :D
    w/Love –
    Perla R.

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