There were long patches of my life when there were no photos. When I was a single mom was one of those times.
I had my daughter’s school pictures but there weren’t a lot of other pictures. A few. Her father had been the photographer in the family and when he and I split up, he kept his photos of her and us.
I went for a long time undocumented. There wasn’t a camera in the house. Cell phones hadn’t been invented. I lived my late twenties and early thirties as a person not thinking about lasting images. Even though, many a time, I felt as beautiful as Layla. You had to have lived then to know that would have been a fine way to feel.
Then I got married again. And I somehow rejoined the part of society where people had cameras and used them. I had spent years not posing. Caring how I looked but not concerned about capturing myself with a particular attitude, not worried about my hair, whether I was smiling right or showing the best side. Knowing that however I looked that moment was transitory. It wouldn’t matter five minutes later.
There was a lot of freedom in that, the whole not caring thing. I think I miss it.
This picture was taken in Gulliver, Michigan in 1984, four or five months after I remarried. We stayed in a cabin on a lake where I’d spent a lot of time as a kid, my brother’s family and my sister’s family and my parents all had cabins. We were in a row, all of us with our own rowboats and screen doors that slammed shut in the way only old screen doors do. Our wet towels hung over the clothesline and we wore sweatshirts all the time we weren’t swimming.
It was a golden time. I never thought I would be happy again, all those years being single and wrestling with bad ideas and worse decisions. And then I was.
It was a time that glowed. Glowed. And it was caught on film.