I know that I’m kind of a dinosaur for still having a personal blog. It’s my thing, though, even if it doesn’t get read as much as it did, say, ten years ago.
I found myself paging through my archives today, and I discovered a few interesting things that happened in years past around the autumn equinox.
Fourteen years ago today was when my blog officially began! I’d updated my own personal site with tidbits here and there, but September 22, 2002 was the first “real” blog entry.
Around that time, I was taking the cab to my job in the Sky Bank Lockbox department, where I would typically work a 12-hour day on Monday, an 8-hour day or less on Tuesday, then clock about nine to ten hours a day for the rest of the week. I had just graduated college the December prior, and was really, really missing the old college vibe (especially since the cab drove me past campus every morning on the way to work).
On September 7th, a couple of weeks before I started this blog, a bunch of us walked from the Schnuth abode to the Black Swamp Arts Festival in BG. That’s me at the bottom left, and Aaron is in the blue shirt behind me.
While I was preparing to mail in my last batch of film to The Darkroom to be processed, I found an old mystery roll sitting in a basket in the dining room. So I chucked it in the mailer and ponied up $11 to see what was on it.
Last time I did that, I got 30-year-old seagull photos from when my family lived in Florida. This time, I got four-year-old photos from one time Aaron and I spent the day in Ann Arbor.
Connor and I were watching the episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers visits the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Of course, I mentioned to Connor that Mommy used to take ballet class when she was little — and, of course, he wanted to see pictures.
I took ballet class at Laura Penton’s Academy of Classical Ballet (later renamed the Medina Academy of Classical Ballet, now long since gone) from when I was four years old to when I was eight. Over those four years, I performed in three recitals (we moved to Florida in 1984 just before what would have been my final recital), but I could only find photos of my last recital from 1983, when I was seven — the one with the purple sequined leotard and tutu with the magic wand and matching star tiara.
All the snapshots of my actual dance recitals involve me looking like I’m out of sync with everyone else, in addition to being a head taller than
all most of the other girls. My mother insists that this is because all the other girls were taking their cues from me. I think she’s just saying that because she’s my mother.
(Now that I look closer, though, none of us are really in sync, and we all look very serious, like we’re concentrating with all our seven-year-old might. And none of us have particularly good turn-out — of all my memories of ballet class, I recall our teacher harping on us the most about that.)
I also wonder if future generations whose major life moments were captured on early digital cameras or cell phone cameras will experience the same kind of technology regret that I feel when I look at these old pics from my Mom’s 110 Instamatic. There’s something kind of meta there, too, though… some parallel between the fuzzy memory and the fuzzy picture. Try as you might, some details just can’t be recalled exactly as they were.
I’ve written about this a few times before — probably because the memory is so vivid and special to me.
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One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was.
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I remember the feel of the mist on my face, the sound of occasional thunder and the flash of lightning, the constant patter of rain, and the clean smell on the wind. As I got older, Mom would stand with me at the door, and I remember her telling me how pretty the rain is.
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It was always dark — but the dark of an encroaching storm, rarely of night. The mist would barely brush our faces, along with a sweet, cool breeze.
When I got a little older — say, school-age, or close to it — we’d watch for the flashes of lightning, then count: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand (which I later learned is backward from how most people do it), then either nod knowingly or jump, startled, when the thunder finally rumbled or cracked its reply.
“That must have been close to the high school,” said Mom one time. Usually it was much farther away: nine miles, about.
I grew to love thunderstorms. The smell of them, the sound, the beautiful contrast between the clouds and the land. The beauty, the drama. When we moved to Florida, I discovered that it would thunderstorm every afternoon during part of the year. I would sit in my bedroom, listening to music or reading, smelling the rain and watching it sheet down the open casement window.
Later on, I learned that my mother had purposefully instilled in me that love of storms, because she had been made so afraid of them by one particular incident in her childhood. Even so, I’m glad she did.
Thunderstorms, to me, are moments when I can stand at the open door, or sit on the front porch, or gaze out an open window, and let my senses take over. I breathe in that clean-smelling air, feel the mist on my face, and I’m four years old again, and there’s nothing but me and the rain.
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Last night, Connor woke up around 4:30am, scared of the thunderstorm. I hugged him while he told me that the thunder was scary.
“I think it’s pretty,” I said.
He thought about it. “I think so, too,” he agreed. Then he remembered what he’d learned in preschool earlier in the week, and his eyes lit up: “And when the rain is done, your flowers will be growed!”
Tonight, though, he wasn’t so sure the thunder was pretty. So, I pulled up the blinds, opened the window, and knelt with him at the windowsill behind the curtains as we watched the rain. The breeze carried the scent of rain into the bedroom, and I felt a fine mist on my face for just a moment.
I put my arm around his waist. “The rain is so pretty,” I said. He agreed, and we watched the dark clouds roll by, and watched the rain fall in puddles on the driveway.
“Mommy, look!” he said. “You forgot to put those sticks in the garbage!”
Ah, well. It was a nice moment while it lasted.
I’m putting me at about age seven in this picture, so it’s probably the Summer of 1983. There are several pictures of me from this particular trip to the playground, but I think this one is my favorite. It captures so much… if you know what to look for.
I was a happy kid, for the most part, except for kids teasing me about my weight. Kids called me fat, but I was mostly just big overall. I was the tallest girl (or the second-tallest) in my grade for most of elementary school, and I was no beanpole. I wasn’t obese, though, so kids were just being kids when they told me that I was “as big as the whole universe.”
Mom frequently told me to be careful that I didn’t “fall and bust [my] head open,” and you can see that right hand holding on to the jungle gym (or was it the tall slide?) to be sure of just that.
That waist-length hair was so much a part of who I was for so long. I was the girl with the long hair. (And look at that fantastic color!) I didn’t get it cut until we moved to Florida the next year and I picked up head lice, at which point we cut probably six inches off to make the lice-combing easier. I was devastated to only have hair down to my shoulder blades.
And, really. It’s the ’80s. Just look at those shorts.
The photo finisher’s date stamp says Dec 1978, and I see a scrap of Christmas wrapping paper in the picture, so this must be Christmas 1978, and I must be 2½ here. I had that Mickey doll for years, and I loved him to death. (The photo is too blown-out for me to tell what my other present was.)
What’s funny is that my son Connor (age 3) got a Mickey doll this past Christmas, and it’s his best buddy right now. I showed him this picture, and explained to him that this was me when I was little, and that I used to have a Mickey doll, too.
You should have seen his face light up.
That’s me, age 2½, sitting on Santa’s lap. Not sure if this is Florida or Ohio — I’m wearing a coat, but December in Florida gets chilly enough to wear a coat, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
I love the unenthused elf behind us. 😀