Photos representing highlights of my life so far are
viewable in a montage I created for this entry, Memory's Snowball, viewable on GetLoupe.com.
Some, but not all, of the memories mentioned below are depicted in the montage, as well as many others.
You can hover over any photo to see a larger version of it.
If you click on any photo, it takes you to the original page, where you can read a caption about it.
Love swells within me for the tiny baby. I must stand on my tip-toes and reach down far to hold his hand as he lies in the crib. He is my baby brother, and I am his big sister. His hand is amazingly soft, and he peers up with bright, blue eyes.
This memory, like many, is underscored by a family photo: in this case, blurry and taken at an angle, as if taken suddenly. Sometimes I wonder if I really remember that moment, or if I have created a memory from looking at the photo, a story to tell myself about my life.
Nevertheless, I pack that memory tight against others from around that time period: sitting in a swath of sunlight, playing with my dolls; making up stories for my brother from a book that he doesn't know I can't read; dancing and singing for my parents on my "stage," a wide landing on the living room steps. These memories are packed densely, the beginnings of a snowball.
From diapers to big-girl clothes, and I savor memories of cooking classes at the Salvation Army. I ride tricycles with my brother. At age 5, I lose my plastic Mickey Mouse ring, white with red sparkles, while watching Dad mow the lawn. Dad offers to replace it, but we cannot find another one. I mourn that Mickey ring as much as the family dog I accidentally kill by opening the gate, allowing him to run into the street. I pack these memories tight.
Rolling further ahead, I am seven when my mom births my little sister. If possible, she is even cuter than my brother: a perky little elf with vivid blue eyes and wispy strawberry blonde hair. When Mom finally lets me hold her, her tiny face wrinkles and turns bright red; I'm not her mama. I make up for it over the next 10 years, playing Barbies with her (making sure our Barbies are independent career women), creating a special club for her and her friends when the boys start a no-girls-allowed clubhouse, playing dress up and encouraging her to sing and write, to color and dance. These memories, packed tight, form a crystal layer over the last days of my childhood.
At college, I meet a zany crew of like-minded geeks who love me as I am. For once, I no longer worry whether I'm wearing the latest trends correctly (the answer was always "no"). I let down my hair -- literally, to the middle of my back -- and parade with them through a world of Spam, Spam, Spam, Diner stickies and Spam. The student radio station gives me 15 minutes of fame; I'm Dr. Johnny Fever, as a girl. Now at last, the quote from my high-school yearbook makes sense: "I've never been so strong / now I'm where I belong." I pack these memories tight, to make room for more.
Like the proverbial groundhog, spooked by real-life's shadow, I return to school for six more weeks (or three years, who's counting?). As I earn my MFA, I pack in memories of poetry readings, running around campus with LARP vampires, and meeting my first husband, a dream-seeking hippy. These memories, packed on, make the ball grow tall as my waist.
I pack on post-graduate memories of a whirlwind marriage, including a trip up the Mississippi for an encounter with a bear who breaks our car window and steals our food. Later I dream of a bear goddess climbing in my window and thanking me for the bread. I pack on memories of ill-fated relationships with one boyfriend who's worth forgetting (except for taking some amazing black-and-white portraits of me) and another boyfriend who couldn't say "I love you" but yet loved me enough to direct me to a counselor who helped me make sense of my previous bad relationships.
The ball is so big now, and I realize that it is rolling downhill. I think perhaps it always has been, but I didn't notice.
More memories, and the ball whizzes faster and faster. Meeting my second husband through my beloved college buddies, flirting with him by asking him to autograph a banana (an in-joke that is funnier to us than to anyone else), wine festivals, plays, movies, silliness. Our space-age wedding, our Disney World honeymoon, where the real-life Mickey poses for a picture with us (and finally makes up for that long-lost ring).
Then, when things couldn't get any better, I pack on memories of my growing belly, my son who bears my red "V" birthmark and his father's eyes. I pack on an endless progression of firsts: crawling, pulling up, eating, walking, babbling, speaking, dancing, running. We kick soccer balls together and share in-jokes: such as getting on all fours and mewing loudly at our bemused kitty. Many, many more memories to pack on.
And all the time, the ball whirls faster and faster, accumulating more and more. There are so many memories now, it is no wonder I no longer have room for phone numbers or, say, the exact location of my keys. Like Albert Einstein, I want to save my brain for the important things: my magnificent growing snowball, spinning faster and faster as it grows ever bigger.
ETA: If you have any problems with the photos, please let me know. I just realized that most of the Facebook pics were originally set as "friends only," so I've tried to make them all public, but I might have missed a couple.