Saturday, February 11, 2006

The face in the blog

Image hosting by Photobucket Dear Friends,
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


Vicky said...

Beth, I own up to the "cute" comment. a) It's a small photo, and b) you certainly are cute, and c) I believe only those who know you well would discern the trouble and anguish you were experiencing.

But more importantly, I admire you for sharing what you were going through right then. As a mother of two sons myself (like you, I believe) I can kind of imagine what it must have felt to know that a beloved child has just signed up to risk his life, and all for a cause you are not too enamored with (I think I can read between the lines). How much pain you must have been feeling - and I am delighted for you that he is no longer in harm's way - and how hard it must have been to wear that smile. In the company of friends and acquaintances, unless we are very, very close to them, it is agonizing to be going through hell while all around are oblivious, and I am feeling for the Beth in the photo.

I am glad you have put up a picture so I can see you when you write. And honored as a reader that you have felt comfortable enough to share its history. You have inspired me to share the history of mine.

Love to you,

Vicky xxx

Gannet Girl said...

OKay, so neither you nor Vicki look ANYTHING like I had imagined.

This is a very troubling day. Not in a bad sense. But to find my imagination so -- OFF.


ckays1967 said...

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

Wonderful explanation of your choice. I think that photo we all choose is so very important and reveals more than even we understand. In mine I am actually in my PJs and it is a self protrait. I love that you can't see my eyes because it means my soul is protected and you only get to see as much of me as I allow.

Funny how one remembers exactly what was going in a particular moment of photograph as poignant as yours.

By the way, nice to meet you, I have been a lurker.

beths front porch said...

Vicky - sorry, someone else a while ago gave me the "cute" comment. Nevertheless, I so appreciate your feedback and your understanding. I look forward to reading the history you mention sharing ;-)

gannet girl - photos are so interesting, aren't they? I'm about to visit YOUR blog. I don't think I've been there, before.

Christina - please lurk anytime! I'm known for skulking upon occasion...

Theresa Williams said...

Beth, I saw this post much earlier in the day and didn't comment yet because I wasn't ready to. I was very moved by it, not just because I remember the incident you mention but because I'm not sure I've ever seen this type of honesty from you before. I always knew you felt this way, but I don't think you've ever said it, at least not as you have here. I salute you, and I think the writing here is very beautiful. And you are beautiful to me, my friend.

Cynthia said...

Your photograph is beautiful, and like Gannet girl, you don't look like I expected. I identify so much with this entry. Putting on a neutral,even happy, face when inside, the conflicts are raging is so ingrained in me that it's become a reflex. It so often feels like a necessary lie, and the honesty about the pain underneath is a necessary and healthy catharsis.

Paula said...

I love you. I love your face. I adore this entry.

Erin said...

Beth, what a beautiful entry! I'm happy to see your picture, and happy that your son is safe.

Photographs are so amazing. I love to look at photos taken throughout my life, and even at photos of people I don't know well. If you don't know the story, you can always imagine one.

Robbo said...

Never knew the history of the picture - couldn't read it in your face originally - now I can see it a bit...

Globetrotter said...

I am very relieved that your son is no longer on active duty. I too, would have become closed up and shut down at that moment. Your picture is perplexing because you look quite happy and charming. Then again, I can be an actress at times, too.

When I left the happy smiling face of my AOL blog behind I decided to replace it with a sadder, more somber face-the one that I really feel these days. As I get older, it has become harder to pretend, alas.

Paula said...

The face in the blog's great.

How 'bout some new writing in the blog? (You can't still be sick...)


Love ya...and miss ya!
And can't wait to see ya--soon!