For JayBee and Cosmic Monkey
There are two photographs in the hallway of my apartment. The first is at the start of the hall, the second at the end, is in front of my bedroom door. When I look at each of them I experience two things simultaneously: A deep desire to know the person in the photograph and an incredible sense of wonder at knowing the person in the photograph.
The first is of my mother. She's twenty-two years old, working as a roof layer. She's a single mother of four. When I look at her in this photo there's no doubt she's absolutely the most self possessed person I've ever met.
The second is a drawing that I made based on a photograph of me at age six. In the photo I'm wearing one of my favorite dresses, my hair is very thin and I have dark circles under my eyes.
I have carried around an unnamed grief my entire adult life: I cannot remember the first six years of my life. How is it that I can look at this photograph of myself and not intimately recognize and know myself?
What seems to be driving this all home is a book I'm reading called The Time Traveler's Wife. One of the main characters is, you guessed it, a time traveler. One example from the book that I particularly enjoy is when he and his seven year old self spend the night at the Art Institute in Chicago. They look at cavemen dioramas, meteorites and a rare and exquisite version of Audubon's Birds of America. This book is enormous. I've actually seen it because I grew up in Chicago and spent many hours at this museum. This scene is one I can easily put myself and my young self in.
If I could, just for a moment, go to myself at six and experience myself as fundamentally part of who I am today... who knows? I might not have an extra heartbeat.
*Photo by my Grandfather Andres