Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Who's That Girl?

I was about four when this photo was taken.  I'm not sure where the robot come from, but I think I appropriated it from a neighbor boy.  I love this picture of me.  I wish I had a larger print, but my dad (who took the photo) only printed a small test shot.

Somehow, though, when I look at this girl, I can see the entire world in her face.  She's never been hurt, never been made to feel small, never been judged or made to feel "less than".  She is a star.

I was a star and I knew it.  I went to Melrose Nursery School about this time, and for some reason, I got a lot of positive attention there.  The teachers loved me.  I have a general sense I ran the play yard. It probably wasn't true, since I was very small for my age. But that is how it felt at the time -- I was queen of all I surveyed. When Art Linkletter's people came to our school to recruit for "Kids Say The Darndest Things", I was the one they chose for the show, mostly on teacher recommendation.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I looked a lot like this when they taped the show.

I was confident, articulate, and unrestrained back then. Anything I thought, anything I wanted to do or be, it was all possible. I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman who had ever lived.  I loved her more than I thought I could ever love anyone. My father was a dark and mysterious figure that came and went sporadically, but seemed magical and interested when he was there. He was Merlin, appearing and disappearing on his own schedule, but bringing adventure and fun when he came. In my four-year-old mind, they were perfect, the pair of them. I had landed the perfect parents. And, for at least as long as it took to snap this photo, I also had the neighbor boy's robot.

I was unstoppable.

I love this photo because somewhere inside me, this little girl, with her DIY bob and her Mona Lisa smile, is still alive and well. I want to hug her and thank her for reminding me every time I look at her that there was a time when I knew no fear and the world was mine. If I know no fear now, I'm pretty sure the world can be mine again.

I love this little girl. She's my past and my future all rolled into one. I'm so glad my father decided to take up photography.  It is a gift that continues to give to this day, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Now... where do we suppose I can find a robot?

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