Saturday, August 12, 2006

A History Of Me

My friend has a display of family photographs on her refrigerator. Snaps of her father, her mother, her brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, old pets, all organised around quotes about love and friendship. You may possibly think that sounds a bit cheesy, even tacky, but I love it. When visitors come into her kitchen the first thing they do is go to the fridge, look at the photos and ask questions about the people pictured. It is my friend's roots and history in miniature, all she or anybody else needs to know if they're not sure who they're dealing with.
And it has taken a lot of hard work for her to reach the point where she is able to identify herself privately or publically with her family. The result of a powerful faith in God and an admirably mature capacity for forgiveness.
Encouraged by my appreciation of my friend's display (and my deep respect for her way of thinking), I started putting up pictures of my own this afternoon. I want to create a pictorial history of my own roots, show to whoever comes into my kitchen the soil I sprang from, the family I was nurtured by, the people and animals I loved--even if, for the last decade, I have been separated from the surviving ones by old (possibly imaginary) grievances, my entanglement with a mentally ill relative whose increasingly psychotic behaviour alienated everybody around her, my own depression, whatever.
I have drifted like a ghost for too long, denying even to myself who I really am, floating in space. If I want to be whole again, the first thing I have to do is reconnect with myself.
So on my fridge now, as a beginning, are my old cats Molly and Kitty, my dog Fred standing up on the arm of a chair looking out of the back door at a snowy garden, my dad Martin in a red roll neck leaving for work one morning. I have other photographs lying around somewhere but I can't find them at the moment. In the cave years, as we might call them after Janey's hibernation image, I had a strange habit of not displaying photographs, but putting them inside books. I have been flicking through my books this afternoon looking for them. How ironic, given that I buried so much of my hope and my humanity in the fantasy image of myself as the new Kerouac.
Pictures of my mother Sylvia from my one photograph album were obviously removed by my mentally ill relative before I got away from her and escaped over here to a new life. I shouldn't be surprised. Most of the photographs that should have been in the house somewhere were missing when she was finally evicted, long after I had left. But it's a shame. I had a great photo of my mum cooking Sunday dinner and sticking her tongue out at me.
Old grievances. Old wounds. I have no wish to dwell on them anymore, but instead to celebrate the people and influences that gave me life. They were a good bunch, in the final analysis, and all anybody can do is work within the perameters of their own nature, with the information they have at the time. I have no right, and no wish either, to be mad at anyone--especially now decades have passed since these supposed wounds and injuries occurred.

2 comments:

Janey... said...

Kitchen refrigerators speak volumes about the owners' psyche and lives...both inside and out...

For instance...your post led me to look at my own fridge...It's something I pass by a hundred times a day...and am probably in it far too many times a day as well...

The outside is littered with pictures...friends, my pooches both past and present...their undeniably cute puppy pictures...pictures of my only niece and nephew...the parents...Then there are the magnets that hold them up...Grateful Dead dancing bears, a big red magnet of a Maryland Blue Crab, a magnet from Bermuda, Fred Flinstone, Bugs Bunny, The Wizard of OZ, a vintage motorcycle, an alien dude, an Asbury Park magnet and a tiny wooden kitty magnet that has those eyes that roll around all crazy-like...It used to be in a set of 4 that my mother gave me...but the other 3 washed away in 1996 when my previous house was flooded 6 feet under...There are grubby little finger prints up and down the handle and on the lower 1/3, mud splatters from when the dogs come running in from the rain, and round the corner past the fridge into the living room while shaking themselves off...It is just about everything I allow others in my life to see...

Then there's the inside...it's a cluttered mess...partly because it's the season to harvest my garden so it's over run with vegetables...but most of the stuff in there??? Geez...some of it I had no idea it was in there...Just how many condiments does a person really need? And why do I have a pickle jar that's been in there for who knows how long...with one pickle in it...There's pieces of this and pieces of that in there...there's no meat or cheese in the meat and cheese drawer and in the fruit drawer? Beer, water and some weird lo carb drinks that I don't drink...

It's a pretty accurate description of where I am...hanging onto all sorts of old things inside that have become cumbersome and cluttered; luckily with a bit of freshness in there...And on the outside...lots of activity...tough to make sense of for anyone but me...and probably needing a make-over...
Refrigerators are the soul of the house...

Sorry about the rambling.........

Bruce Hodder said...

Mine's a fantastic metaphor too, come to think of it. A fragmented history on display in the photographs, chipped white surface with stains where things have dropped unnoticed, the inside in need of a good clean too, and poorly stocked, though there are plenty of diet drinks and fruit juices in line with my new resolve to be healthy...a few things at the back that are past their use-by date and are growing more lethal by the day (better throw them out), and an accumulation of ice growing outwards from the rear wall that soon I will have to melt off or the functioning of the whole machine will be impaired.

Oh, and on top of the fridge there's a pile of clothes that need taking up to my wardrobe, but I'm not sure how that fits the metaphor! It's just evidence of my habit of leaving things that need to be done until some imaginary day in the future when I will have the time and energy to do them.