I woke up this morning from a dream of walking, walking, walking, up a straight canyon road. I wore a backpack. Toward the end of the dream I realized I was also carrying my purse (which is not pursey at all, but a very ethnic-stitchy casual bag) (but still... my purse?). It was now, this weird spring-clinging-to-winter season. I can't quite recall what my purpose was, but I was out for a solo day trip, and I had horses on my mind. I think I was looking for a horse to ride. Why? As I walked I saw some people up ahead, standing and talking together in front of their family ranch. There were two horses also standing with the group. I passed by as quietly and unobtrusively as I could manage and kept walking up the road, but I became aware that one of the horses, a trim one with beautiful clear brown and white markings, had recognized me as a familiar friend, stepped out after me, and wordlessly called me back. I turned around and went to the horse. His people began talking to me, then I was in their den with them, and what had been intended as a family meeting of some kind turned into a rather political discussion. I stayed quiet for the most part, realizing I was the lone moderate in roomful of tip-of-the-longest-feather-of-the-right-wing-ers. I felt like I had already intruded by interrupting their original purpose of enjoying some family time, just by my being there. As they talked on, I looked around and was surprised to find I knew one of the faces. He didn't know mine, however. As he talked on it dawned on me that this was a famous family (which I choose not to name here) that enjoyed an incredible heyday of fame during my growing up years, and whose name is still known—still respected as important and talented by some, but certainly not by all (if I mentioned their name here, I'm positive some eyes would roll, and I don't want to tempt you to snarkiness). One by one I began to recognize several other faces in the room, and had to smile inside. Why hadn't I known them from the outset? I made a promise to call up my best childhood friend and tell I'd met the ________s; she'd idolized them when we were kids. Nothing in me responded to their past or present VIPness. They seemed ignorant and lost in a has-been sort of way, and that made me really sad for them and especially eager not to give away the fact that I knew who they were. What a relief not to give a hoot about their name or their old famous faces. An hour passed while they ranted on about current events, then another hour, and I grew more anxious about having disrupted their evening together, so I slipped out. I kept walking up that canyon road. Did I have the horse with me then? I had some kind of creature with me. The canyon was so wintry then. I stepped up onto a rise to look out over the view, and all I could see was white everywhere. Snow, snow, snow. Earth and sky blended into one. I could just make out a hint of a distant cave opening here, and there, and there, but even those soon vanished in the white. It was as if the world was being erased. I could look over my left shoulder and still see part of the road and a dark mountain peak blocking the sun, but looking ahead there was nothing but a white world all the way to the periphery of my vision, and it became impossible to keep looking at it. It wasn't exactly blinding, but there was so much whiteness (I almost said nothingness, but that's not it) to take in that I couldn't maintain my focus or even keep my eyes open. They grew heavy and tired and so sleepy, so I closed them. And then I woke up.Anyway. Back now to April 30th. Still care to join me?
The more pieces I chop this post into, the more story parts fall by the wayside. Maybe that's not a bad thing. I think the part I want to keep now is the lovely thing that happened in the Hackworth studio. (How many days in a row do you think I will continue to link to Justin? Any bets? I am not afraid to repeat myself, you know, especially when I have a good reason. I am my grandmother's girl.)
So, it's April 30th, the day of the shoot. I am good for absolutely nothing all day except for sipping red bush tea and trying not to throw up, tweezing my eyebrows, practicing standing in shoes taller than I've worn for umpteen years. Oh, and pep talking myself: "It doesn't matter how these photos turn out. The important thing is to enjoy the people you're with. Enjoy Mum. Enjoy Justin. Enjoy yourself. Just let yourself smile and be. You look how you look. It is what it is. Nobody will be surprised to see you as you are; you're the only one who doesn't know what that looks like." Remember that verse in Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity"? King David sure got that right. I won't go into my neuroses much more now; I'll only admit that I have been self-esteem-challenged for a good long while, and how I look is just one of my many irrational bugaboos. If you can't relate, then I am truly glad for you, you well-adjusted person! Kiss your mirror, quick!
So. So, so. How about some more relevant background info about this shoot? I was fortunate enough to be given a slot in the 30 Strangers project. This is Justin's third year doing this great thing, which has evolved into both a wonderful and badly-needed fundraiser for our local Center for Women and Children in Crisis, and a way to celebrate the generational chain of women in thirty lucky families annually. That second purpose presented a difficult irony for me, because I am currently without living family members (of either gender) before me or after me. That makes it a little tricky to shoot since spirits and hopes, like vampires, tend not to show up on film. Or even digital. Ghost hunters and paranormal pundits, please just leave this point. I don't feel like arguing about it.
I asked Justin to schedule me for the last slot of the project, vowing to do my problem-solving best to find a baby, borrow a baby, or otherwise come up with some sort of reasonable mother-daughter arrangement that would fit the bill. Making a baby has been a hoped-for possibility right along, but there's no way to demand or put a rush order on a gestational period for the sake of some photos, or for the sake of anything else, for that matter. None of my (pro)creative ideas worked out. (More on this subject later, however.)
Those of you who know me might be wondering now, "So what about your in-laws? What are they, chopped liver?" Oh, honey, they are so much better than filter organs. They are truffles and hummus and and homemade peach ice cream and freshly-baked bread. I have a wonderful tribe of women I married into when I sealed my deal with Rob, and even more treasures joined the group after I did. Adorable people. People I never want to be without. A mum, and sisters. But... would Justin bend the rules for me, and let me bring my in-laws? It was either that or steal a baby when it came down to the wire.
Lucky for me, Justin was willing. Since I couldn't figure out how to get all of the sisters (seven altogether, plus their daughters) to Utah by April 30th, I decided that great as it would be to get lost in a beautiful sea of in-laws, I would go for the small, simple, perfect choice: to be a twosome with Mum, the lady who is second only to my own mother in her contribution to my well-being and joy in life. (Mum made an especially fabulous number one son.) But that would mean no hiding in the crowd for either of us, and far more focused individual attention, something neither of us seems to crave.
I was worried Mum wouldn't want to do it. I asked for a date with her on the 30th but didn't tell her why for a long time. I finally got my courage up four days before the shoot, and confessed the plan. She replied, "Oh, is that it? I'm so relieved! I thought maybe we were going for pedicures—what a waste of time! But I would even do that for you." Those of you who fancy pedicures will not understand just how much love was expressed in her statement.
Well, I've done it again. I've talked myself all the way up to another stopping point and still haven't told you the great thing that Justin did. Next time. What a lot of words for such a little story. I'll just be talking to myself by the end of this, if I'm not already!
Still, I promise next time to stick with my theme of distraction and continue to derail the straightforward progress of this telling with far too many details. I want to talk about red shoes. And second-hand symbols. Then I'll work my way around to Justin, and to May Day.
Right now, I'm off to eat popcorn for lunch, go to church, take a walk, then enjoy a family dinner, but I'll eventually be back with part four. TTFN.