Thursday, November 20, 2014

This picture explains everything you need to know about my childhood.

In going through old photo albums looking for inspiration, I found this. I can't get tired of looking at it, you guys. Because, if you look closely, you can see my entire childhood.

Clearly, I'm playing school here in our wood-paneled family room with the awesome chalkboard my dad got me when I was in kindergarten, and which was my most beloved toy for many years after. The Big Yellow Bear and Mouse-a-fee Mouseriddle are not paying attention to my lesson and are engaged in some sort of risky behavior behind me. But I'm wearing my favorite outfit, a hand-me-down from more affluent cousins who wore DESIGNER CLOTHES AS CHILDREN, so I don't care. I'm fabulous and I know it.

Along the back wall of wood paneling, under the picture of Jesus knocking on your door, are two stand hair dryers. My mother was a beautician who sometimes worked from home, and I thought for years that a hair dryer with a hood was just a standard piece of beauty equipment until friends came over and were like, "WTF?"

The blue portable one is sitting on top of an ancient ice cream maker that I can only remember making ice cream in once. I'm pretty sure everyone who ever had one of those ice cream makers only made ice cream in it once. There's probably one of those in every basement in the lower 48, still in the box, full of promise but smelling vaguely of mildew and disappointment.

The closet behind me was the scariest place in my house. The previous owners were DIY non-geniuses who turned their carport into a family room and didn't feel insulation was necessary. In the blizzard of '78 we had 6 inches of snow in that closet and it rained in there more than once. All that moisture and neglect caused a hole to rot away that over time became big enough that a large, angry stray cat once got in through it in the middle of the night and picked a fight with our house cat in the hallway outside my bedroom. It was one of the most bizarre things that has ever happened to me. And my life has been full of some pretty bizarre shit.

Let us not forget the red shag carpet. And that fern whose frond is invading the far left of the picture. It really tied that whole room together. When there wasn't snow in it.

When/if I write my memoirs (tentative working title: No, Really, I Thought This Was All Normal) this will be my cover picture. Because that little slice of off-kilter 80s suburban white-lower-middle-class-life captured on Polaroid film is my time capsule.

Opening it today has been as fabulous as that designer outfit.