Surprisingly, I could clearly remember being taken by a neighbor. My family was going to be leaving the area & the lady next door had snapped that photograph outside in our adjoined yards. I remember that the moving van had already been there since morning & that right after we had our picture taken, I'd asked my father for permission to to Burger King to meet up with my friends. It was the last time for a long that I would call him "Daddy."
Wow. Memories and feelings hit me so hard that I had to sit down in the middle of all my packing boxes. I just couldn't stop staring at the Polaroid. I was so young then, wearing that curly almost-fro that had been so popular. My dad - always so handsome - just looked proud to be my dad. As I studied that younger face of his in the photo, I forgot about the time later when he was so sick, his body wasting away to almost nothing from lymphoma.
In 1975, when I was fourteen, there was a period of about 4 months that I still have no idea how I survived.
My father's job had taken him out of the country & he was to be away for several months. In the meantime, I was went with my mother and siblings to live near Mama's family in a very small town in the lower part of the States.
Things "back home" were great at first. I was meeting "ainties," uncles, cousins and old family friends that had known my mother as a "little fast-assed gal." My brothers were having a good time. They discovered that small town girls are some of the prettiest in the world. They just had to be careful about not plucking any fruit from a limb on the family tree. (Did I say "family tree?" In that little town, we were part of an orchard. Not only do you have all the blood relatives, but you have to keep track of the "play" cousins and such. Or, as Mama warned the boys: "Be done messed around and got with Uncle Jo-Jo's daughter by Maybelle"...)
For the first time in my life, I had a little bit of freedom because Mama stopped being so strict about where I could go & who I could run with. It wasn't like I could go very far or do too much of anything without someone watching and ready to report back. Once, when Mama called a friend back in the old neighborhood, she bragged that in a small town kids could be kids. "Don't have to worry about them getting into too much trouble round here." She had no idea the things I would manage to get into.
Have you ever met the one person who you just knew was your soulmate? Did you know right away - or did it take a while? For me, as soon as I saw T, I knew. So did he.
T was my very first love. Even after 30 years of other people passing in and out of my life & breathing a little bit of who they are into my heart, no one but T has ever found their way into my soul and become part of me.
I looked back down at the Polaroid. About two weeks after we'd posed for the photo, my father had gone away on the overseas assignment. He divorced my mother and never came back to get us. He kept in touch with me and my brothers and sisters, but it was probably 3 years before I saw him again.
Almost 8 eight years after he'd divorced my mother, my father walked me down the aisle at my wedding. Somewhere in a packing box there is another photograph of the two of us - him in a too-big tux & me in my wedding gown. We were grinning about something as the picture was snapped. I can't remember exactly what I said to make him smile, but I remember that I called him "Daddy."
I'm listening to:
"Never Gonna Let You Go" (Blackstreet)
"Pata Pata" (Miriam Makeba)
Words for today:
"Love is not subject to the laws of time, space, or matter."