Today I link my face to my blog in the "profile." It’s a slightly younger face than the one I’m currently sporting, since the photo was taken in November 2004. And thanks to the miracle of sun and chemicals, I’m blonder now.
On either side of me, cropped from the photo, are awesome friends. It’s a pre-Thanksgiving shot, and there was another person with us whom I had never met who took the photo. We were at a restaurant, and somehow the subject of the Iraq war and the understanding and feeling of students about the war on college campuses arose. I sat, not saying anything. Maybe I looked at my comrades. Maybe I looked down at my plate.
The other people at the table were not aware my beloved younger son had enlisted in the Marines and at that moment was preparing for deployment to Iraq. I could not have said anything if I wanted to. I was anguished by what was happening with regards to my son and what he had chosen. I was afraid. I would expound at length, but this isn't a political column. I'll only say that at the dinner I retreated into the well of myself until the subject changed.
This was what was happening when the photo was snapped.
So I was puzzled when someone said to me about the photo: very cute. To me, it’s a troubled face. This face, this mask I wear to the world, to people who don’t know me: I’m fine! I’m marvelous! Wonderful! Fabulous! I can use a lot of exclamation points. Maybe it helps me bridge the gap of alienation I sometimes feel. I look normal: therefore, I am normal. Maybe it’s how I thumb my nose at the world: I was a homely child, taunted. Hurrah for this face, poetic justice! I could slip on a banana peel tomorrow.
Those particular troubled personal times are over now: the younger son is no longer on active duty. Still, the photo represents the start of a metamorphosis. It is troubled before becoming relaxed. It looks smiling but it has a well of sadness: dip down, sweet down with your bucket. It reminds me of Anne Sexton: poetry is my kitchen, my face. ~Beth