Saturday, November 29, 2014

On my Way

My mom turned 80 just a few weeks ago, I milestone indeed, that is unless you know her mom made to 100!  My mom looks great and is full of life.  I should be so lucky.  Along with a few family members, we celebrated by singing Happy Birthday Mimi! as the clock struck midnight on November 11th.  But that wasn’t enough. My family is having another party this weekend.

There should be enough activities, games, and food choices for a group of 50 or so well-wishers.   I’m helping to buy the Chinese take-out and bringing a few desserts, no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies and apples squares.  One thing is a for sure, there will be a “slide” show, full of wonderful photos of my mom from her childhood to present day, but also her seven children, my dad, her sisters, sisters and brothers in law, friends, nieces and nephews, her mom and dad and their family and friends, and of course her 17 grandchildren.

So on her birthday, after enjoying breakfast together, my mom and my two sisters and my dad went to a casino. It’s a thing they’ve been doing for years.  While I was invited that morning to join them, I decided not to go. It’s not really my thing.  Instead, I spent a few hours combing through stacks of photo albums, looking for photos of my mom and other possible images to be included in the slide show. During my investigation I came across many possible photos for the show, I also stumble over a few images of me. You know, me before transition.

I have an uneasy relationship with images of me from my past. At first I hated seeing them, they were an uncomfortable reminder of a previous time that didn’t reflect who I was. But over the past few years I’ve come to understand a little more about why my reflection and images of me were and are so troubling.   I’ve learned that my identity was often invisible, and the reflection and images I saw of myself, didn’t mirror what I expected to see, a girl. Instead, I saw someone else. Boy has that created a few problems. But don’t worry; I have a really good therapist. 

So I forwarded about 60 images to my brother who is putting together the show.  In the process I took photos of a few images I thought were significant enough to put aside as keepsakes. There’s one of me, probably 12 years old, in cut off jeans holding my extremely long black and white cat, Roosevelt. I remember crying so hard when I learned he had died. There’s another at my 10th birthday. I’m wearing a deep blue mohair sweater decorated with Aztec-like patterns. I’m standing in front of my cake, holding up all my fingers with my typical broad grin, unconcerned about my bowl haircut. 

Anyway, Thanksgiving was just the other day and I had the good fortune to have been invited to dinner at my ex’s house. We’re still close; in fact she lives just a mile down the road, which is really convenient, except when kitchen utensils suddenly go missing.  The guest list included me and my ex, her boyfriend, his ex and her girlfriend, and their teenage children. It took me hours to find the perfect outfit, you should see the wreckage in my room and the pile of discarded clothes, but I managed to pull it together and was only 20 minutes late, not bad for a LeBlanc (my mom’s maiden name). All and all we had a really nice evening, stuffing ourselves, being ignored by the teenagers, having a few drinks by a bonfire, listening to records (that’s right), and eventually cleaning up to progressive rock music, like Yes and Jethro Tull, don’t ask.  As we were leaving, my ex realized we failed to take any photos of the evening.  That’s okay I thought, I had a good time without any pictures and I have the lyrics from Aqualung stuck in my head, “…flowers bloom like madness in the spring.”

If I’m lucky enough, in a little more than 30 years, I’ll turn 80. And with a big smile, I’ll hold up my 10 fingers and flash them 8 times.  Some days, life seems really short.

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