Quick FYI: I’ll be playing solo at the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market this Thursday – from 4-5pm. It’s a wonderful farmer’s market with lots of fresh cheap produce, plants and other yummy things. At the Mercado San Agustin, just off Congress, west of I-10. Thanks fer listenin!
It’s funny how no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve become as a full grown, supposed “adult”, there’s still that wee vision engraved in your inner mirror of the you you used to be. Like the former fat girl who still sees herself as pudgy and dumpy even when she’s rockin a bikini. When I was visiting my parents last Easter, Mami and I rummaged through dozens of old family photos. Mow that we live in the digital age of bits and bytes, it’s such a pleasure to sift your flesh and bone fingers through stiff, oddly colored, dog-eared paper, in black and white, sepia or saturated technicolor. Slightly faded images of my loved ones in their younger years before I even existed, those are my favorites (and I’ll be scanning some for the blog in the near future). But then there’s the clipped, uneven, small rectangles of my old school photos.
Ah, photo day at school. The one day where what you wear, the style of your hair, every detail of how you look in that moment of your life will be crystallized and printed for posterity, to age softly in your parents wallets for years to come. I came across these and my heart lurched for a second. That’s right, that was me. Socially unsure and awkward, living in between the pages of myriad books that none of my classmates were interested in. Usually hidden behind a wall of thick lenses and shaggy hair. Until braces came my way and my parents had the compassion to buy me contact lenses so I could be more than just glass and steel. And no matter how much I’ve learned about makeup or tweezing or hair styling or fashion or small talk since then, this motley gallery is still how I see myself deep inside.
Those were the days of comic books spilling out of my drawers and making sure Daddy used the special “snake repellant” spray in my closet at night (which I think was actually a can of Aqua Net). And my hair was naturally Marcia Brady straight. Boy do I miss that. Those glasses are totally hipster-worthy now!
Junior high, I must have been about 11 here and somehow have a Harry Potter look going on. This was as close to flybacks as I could get back then.
What a difference a year makes! It’s the same glasses but this is when I hit my growth spurt and shot up 3 inches in 3 months (towering above most of the boys). My hair started its new (and turns out everlasting) phase of sheer bushiness – so at least now I’m closer to Hermione. My smile is a bit more demure mainly because I’m hiding two horrendous eye teeth – these primitive fangs that protruded above the rest of my teeth. Which made braces inevitable.
But now it’s freshman year of high school! Sure, it’s a Catholic high school with pleated skirts that don’t flatter me at all. But no more glasses! This is a whole brand new start in a more grown up place!
And look at all that glamorous metal. Sigh, well there’s always next year. You can’t see, but I’m wearing those braided ribbon barrettes on the back of my head (anybody remember those?) Red and white, Bishop Kenny colors! This was before I learned that you absolutely must roll the cuffs of your shirts, as well as the waist of your skirt, to even be close to considered normal. But I learned eventually.
And that’s as far as I got on my school pictures. But you know what? I have learned to dig the old me. I’ve lived and learned a lot since those days, but there’s always a little slightly awkward, ever-bookish part of me that still shines a light on this crazy world we live in. I still would rather read a book than do most other things, though I’ve learned I’m not fulfilled on books alone. I still feel a bit awkward and shy around people I don’t know well, though I’ve learned to push through my discomfort and have gotten to know some amazing people. What was still is – but instead of pushing it down, down, way down, I choose to wear it with pride. I was never popular or cool back in those days. Sure, it stung at the time. But you know what, kids? It really didn’t matter after all.
And another thing, chillen: deal with the braces.They’re SO worth it in the end.