This past Sunday, a day filled with light and laughter, with wishes and hopes, I wandered among tombstones, seeking out names, touching weathered statues, and peering through ornate doors to catch glimpses of light streaming through stained glass. Birdsong and dogwood blossoms filled the air, and I inhaled the peace.
As always, I wondered what stories had been lost to time. Why did this baby die just short of his first birthday, and how did his mama cope? Was this Confederate soldier glad he had gone to war? And, why did this young woman, back in the early 1800s have her maiden name, rather than her married name, on her tombstone? I knew she had married; her tombstone clearly stated "wife of..." I found others like it, and I had to wonder why - was it a way to be able to trace the family's lineage? So many stories lost.
I wander through dusty antique malls for the same reason, delighting in a ten year old's faded red autograph book, a 100 year old lesson planning book, or cabinet photos with just a hint of a smile. And, as I sorted out my dad's numerous photo albums, I wondered again...Who were these people? Why were they important to dad? What were their stories?
For as long as I can remember, I need to write...stories, poems, memories. The pen flew across the page then, and now my fingers fly across the keyboard, or fill up my journal pages. I record the everyday bits and pieces that make up our lives. I blog for the same reason.
You see, I don't want my story to be lost. I want my children to know the stories connected to the photos, or to the blue bowl, forever known in my mind as the "cookie bowl." I want them to know me, not just as mom, but as a woman in her own right.
And, intertwined with the words comes the art...whether it's messy paint on a journal page, or my photographs. I can't separate the two. But, my art journey is my story...me, the eldest of 4 children. Me, the daughter of a milkman, who loved a good story himself, and a seamstress, who wanted only to raise her babies.
Me, a wife now, for almost 40 years, and the mother of 3 adults, and grandmother to two darling boys.
Me, the math teacher, caught up in the world of fractions, polygons, and graphs. Me, the teacher, who spends her days in the world of middle schoolers.
Me, the woman with the camera in her hand, who causes the workers at the farmers market to giggle as I photograph a head of lettuce or a pile or radishes, and maybe even the weeds growing in the parking lot.
Me, the artist. (I still hesitate to call myself that!) Me, who has been published in books and magazines, but who still wonders, "Am I really any good?" or "Am I just faking this really well?"
Me, the lover of used bookstores, where I found this for a whopping $3!
This passage caught my heart:
"My story is myself; and I am my story. This is all you will know of me; it is all I will know of you. This is all that will survive of us: the stories of who we are, the ways that people speak our names and remember something we did....what is left of their lives, and what will be left of us, is story."
So, I photograph, and I fill up my journals.
"I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means." - Dorothy Allison
Posting to Texture Tuesday:
- "Edges", multiply at 73%
- "Extreme Grunge" soft light, 25%