From the time that I was very young I remember the collection of photo albums that I mom insisted on bringing with her through all of our many moves, across countries and continents. I’m surprised she managed to hang on to them despite my dad’s persistent (and largely successful) efforts to get rid of as much as possible no matter how precious it was to us. These albums were her treasures, records of our childhood, a way to hang on to us, reminders that it hadn’t all been bad that we had been happy too. From time to time, on the rare occasion of a family dinner we will pull these albums out and reminisce, laugh at hair cuts and clothes, tell stories about pets long dead, but it is the pictures of my parents before children that were always my favorites. There are a collection of maybe six pictures that sum up my perception of who my parents were when they met, my bohemian mother with the black hair parted down the middle, falling long and straight or braided, lost against her dark sweater; my handsome father full of youthful arrogance and rustic appeal, leaning against his army jeep in a battered felt hat, his mustache curling over his upper lip or up at the sides.
A few weeks ago I fished this album–the First Album–out of it’s place on my mom’s shelf. It’s battered but still in tact a predominantly blue, generic landscape makes up the cover, front and back. At the top of the cover in faded gold lettering the word “Photos”. No matter how many times I look at it the pictures are always new to me, full of the unknown, the unknowable but this time I am struck by how young my parents look, younger than I am now, their whole lives ahead of them, no choices made yet, no pain inflicted on each other. Hopeful.
I try not to make my kids the main focus of the pictures I put up on this blog but, well, Henry was just so darn cute in his little old man sweater that I couldn’t help snapping pictures as he tried to run away from me and into oncoming traffic or into the slavering jaws of some angry canine. Such an adventuresome lad! I also took some of random strangers that I figured I’d put up for good measure….
My husband’s family tradition every Christmas is to go to Boise, where my mother-in-law‘s family live. We didn’t do this last year due to the fact that I was hugely prego and past my due date of Dec, 17th (he was ten days late), but this year we agreed to make the trek despite our misgivings about an 11 hour drive with a 1 year-old. Henry did surprisingly well and I annoyed everyone in the car snapping pictures of the breathtakingly desolate landscape as we drove through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We were concerned about the weather as we had to drive through the mountains, but aside from some fog the weather was amazing.
I’ll be posting more pics from this trip. This first batch is the mountains in mist.
My daughter was recently hospitalized, more out of caution than necessity (for which I thank our doctor as it is better to be safe than sorry), but ohmyfuckinggod was it ever stressful for me as my husband was away in Toronto and I had to drag Henry along with me (he was the best behaved baby the whole time and absolutely loved the hospital. What gadget/electronics oriented child wouldn’t?), but sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my daughter’s hospital room with him was less than restful.
So, what do I do when things are stressful? Tune them out, even just for brief snatches of time. Turn away for the space of a breath, from the anxiety of my child in a hospital bed to the window because although I know her illness isn’t serious the precariousness of my children’s safety is brought too close in the children’s ward where many others (the baby whose cry we heard through most of the night) will not recover so quickly, where many other parents struggle with the heartbreak of an inconsolable child who they are unable to protect .
This collection features some of my favorite subjects; trains, my kids, and random strangers. The trains are out of focuse, for the most part because we were driving. Does it work? I don’t know. One of these days I will prevail upon my husband to stop at this most inconvenient location and I will be able to take more time photographing the beautiful art on these trains. And all those great, towering industrial buildings with their network of pipes that make me think of that movie San Francisco in which Robert de Niro is a rebel messing with the sewage. For some reason the pipes made quite an impression when I watched it ten years ago, but then I was smoking a lot of pot at the time;)