I have two faces. My profile picture, is coifed and painted. This visage is assembled for doctor’s visits, teacher’s meetings, and the occasional dinner out.
In reality, this is who types the blog:
Two months ago, I would have been embarrassed by my scruffiness and filed this picture away.
Now, I’m proud of my slightly combed, definitely unwashed hair.
My lack of make-up reflects a sensible woman, and even my discount watch is a statement of pragmatism.
Around the house, I wear my regulation comfy clothes and simple hairstyles.
Out there, I fret over appearing appropriate and agonize over the details of my attire. I do want to look pretty, but I don’t need to be squeezed and painted into attractiveness.
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg’s slide show inspired me to share these photographs. One person’s bravery can give courage to many. Seeing her childhood photos sent me on a personal expedition. What would I find?
Although I started out looking through childhood pictures, I ended up focusing on my adult snapshots. I learned more about myself than I expected.
Both the above pictures were taken at different times, but I wear the same shirt. A gift from my mom, she bought it for me on vacation while I stayed at home and organized the garage. This shirt is over 30 years old and rests in a box with old journals.
Before I packed the shirt away for safe-keeping till my 80th birthday, I took it with me to Russia.
Here, I celebrate finding a chicken coop with hooting, jumping jacks, and ladder antics.
Picture after picture of me feature this shirt or my default position–wide open arms, caught in mid-spin or similar exaltation.
My excitability led to unkind teasing in school.
In videotaped talent shows, my laughter is immortalized; always louder, always longer.
My face is jubilant in old photographs. Despite my sometimes crippling anxiety, my capacity for joy is extraordinary.
Understanding that these strengths and weaknesses come from a neurological condition helps me feel centered and in control. A lifetime of confusion and displacement evaporates.