The surface of the perfectly square photograph feels like parched earth when I run my fingers across it. Cracks ripple across the plane blurring the image. Colors have evaporated into thin air, leaving behind ghostlike faces. There are six of us in the photo – my family.
My little brother stands in the middle of the group, posed to bolt as soon as possible so he can rejoin whatever game he was playing. My mother, right behind him, has her hands firmly placed on his shoulders to keep him in place. My other brother stands to his right. He is a little older, a little more resigned to these types of interruptions. He stands straight up with his arms crossed. His slightly too big, double-knit striped pants are very mod. He looks straight at the camera, challenging the photographer to get this done – and fast.
My father, by far the tallest at 6’-4”, stands behind him. He smiles at the camera, totally relaxed. His hair is just graying and is complemented by the black polo shirt he is wearing.
My mother, next to Dad, is several heads shorter than him. Her hair is perfectly teased and coiffed. She always did her own hair and knew how to make it look chic. She also looks relaxed and is smiling, only the grip of her hand on my brother’s shoulder belies her need to control her brood.
My sister is next to Mom, still a little shorter than mom. Her long, lanky legs, accented by white knee socks paired with a mini-skirt, hint at how tall she will be in the future.
And finally, there’s me. I stand slightly off to the left – at the far edge of the group. My heels, and my height, make me tower above my mom and siblings. Only dad stands taller. My hair is pulled back, my cool cat-eye glasses obscure my eyes a bit, and I am smiling. I emit that sense of maturity and cool of a teenager. The smile seems to say, “Yes, I know we have to do this. Let me make the best of this and let’s get it over with asap. Really, this is embarrassing posing here with my nerdy sibs…” I am wearing a mini-mini-skirt with a matching shirt and belt, along with the heels. It’s summer, so I don’t have on “nylons” and I’m certainly not wearing knee socks! I am entering that phase of independence – it won’t be long until I flee the coop, and I seem to know it.
I keep this photograph on my refrigerator because it makes me smile. It was taken with my dad’s camera – some new-fangled camera that took pictures that clearly don’t stand the test of time..