Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Going through my mom's photo album several months ago, I came across two photos of myself that I borrowed, scanned, and had printed on photo paper. One of them is on my mantle, and one is on my altar, where I put little trinkets and symbolic objects to remind myself of what's important in life.

One photo is of me as a little girl, probably 2 or 3 years old. I'm naked, leaning over a wading pool, and splashing the water with one hand, with an expression of joyful wonder on my laughing face. I look like I just discovered water and all of its wonders, and my dad, the photographer, captured the spray of water as it hung in mid-air, limned by the same sunlight that made my blond ponytail seem to glow. This photo is there to remind me that I once felt awe and delight in something simple.

The other photo is of me as a teenager, maybe 14 or 15, though it's hard to say. I'm standing in the snow, bundled up in an 80's era snow jacket and white fluffy hat. My gaze is level and direct at the camera, my expression is hard to judge. Not upset, not happy, just direct and calm, but focused. My body is turned slightly to the side, one hip very slightly cocked. I like that photo because I look like I'm ready to take on anything, and that slight swagger makes me smile. I keep that photo because it reminds me that I am - or at least have felt like - a bad-ass; that I can take things on and win.

I don't remember when either photo was taken, but I do remember being a teen up in Tahoe when my family would spend time at our timeshare cabin, and the hours I would spend in the snowy woods, imagining myself the only person in the world, exploring that muting whiteness that muffled all familiar objects so they seemed unrecognizable. My fantasy life was exquisite in those days. I had whole storylines in my head, and inevitably, they would involve me being the brave, whip-smart heroine, riding horses, finding treasure, escaping danger, and even rescuing men in distress (what's the masculine form of the word 'damsel', anyway?)

I remember how effortless it was, walking the woods and lake, exploring the tiny worlds in each pine grove, creeklet, or snowed-over bush. I felt like I was one of the woodland creatures, not a part of the hustling-bustling society of humans. Of course, when I got cold enough, I would wander home, with ice in my hair, grateful for the warmth of the cabin and the good food smells. Happy to look out at the snow from the warm side of the steamed-up windows.

I keep those pictures to remind myself that those younger people are still in here, the one who was overjoyed by water, and the one who explored the winter wonderland as the heroine of her own story.

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