family & France

There is a series of three photograph taken the day that my parents got engaged. They are celebrating their engagement with their siblings, all who were already married. Everyone is dolled up and laughing. I think they were taken in my grandfather’s study.

I used to be fascinated by these photos. I found them when I was in art school during a period where I pillaged both my parents collections of photographs. I was obsessed with family snapshots. I was never really sure why those photographs in particular captivated me but it had something to do with how fresh and young they all were. Looking at it from the future, knowing the significant events that occurred- the births, deaths, divorces, illnesses, accomplishments, that moment frozen in time, seemed like a pause before the first dip in a roller coaster. For some reason I woke up thinking of those photographs.

 

The other night I was in bed reading and absentmindedly playing with one of my teeth. This got me thinking about my grandmother. How she lost a lot of her teeth around age 92 or 93. This in turn made me think about getting older and getting old. About being sixty, eighty or ninety-six, the age my grandmother was when she passed away, and how I would look back on this time in my life and see my loves, my fears, my hopes. I tried to imagine, to get a feeling for how I would look upon this time when I’m older. For some reason this way of thinking about getting older, from the future looking back as opposed to from the present thinking forward, gave me a strange sense of reassurance. I realized that the thing that fascinated me about those photographs was that life hadn’t calcified into their bodies. The thing that I find most paralyzing about getting older is how much more weight our choices start to carry. From that stemmed the decision to move abroad. The fear that time was passing by and that I had to do the things that I had always wanted to do.

And because of some good decisions and a bit of luck I found myself today having a picnic by a field of sunflowers, then spending the remainder of the afternoon planting lettuces, carrots, and radicchio, and picking green beans for pickling, and unripe apples to make pectin.

When I got back it was so hot I started watching an Yves Saint Laurent documentary in bed. A St. Vincent song played in my head and wouldn’t go away. I stopped half-way through the movie to return some emails and somehow, amidst all the loveliness of the day and the anxiety of the future, while sitting in a pleather couch in a hotel lobby,  it hit me- the density, the loveliness of all I had, so far, lived and experienced in France.