I’ve written here before about how I just do not photograph well. I keep waiting for this to change, maybe as I get older and more confident, but no. It’s just my curse and I have to live with it. Occasionally, if we take a WHOLE bunch of pictures, one or two will be decent. But in the random shot, I have learned to have low expectations.
I’m reminded of this because a couple of weeks back, I went to my neighbor’s art opening, over in Raleigh. It was a rare night out for us, without the toddler, and even though the weather was awful I did my best to look cute. You know, nice shirt, eyeliner, which is pretty much my A game these days. (Sad, but true.) Anyway, we had a great time, the art was amazing, and all was well until….my neighbor sent me a shot the photographer there had taken of us together with my husband. First off, I look crazy chesty. Seriously! And I am so not. I was wearing, like, a totally subdued Banana Republic button-down, but for some reason I look like I should be on Rock of Love being there for Brett. And then I have this weird crinkle in my nose, my eyes are squinty, and my hair is frizzing out above my head like a halo. Now, I know I looked in a mirror several times that night, including right before I went into the gallery. So I can only blame my photographic curse for the way I look.
It’s funny how one bad shot can just send me RIGHT back to my teen years. I hate my hair, my teeth are crooked, my nose too big, blah blah blah. I’ve had forty years to get used to how I look, you’d think I’d be there by now. But maybe, that’s what helps me tap back into the voice I need for my books, so it’s a good thing. I’m choosing to think so tonight. And will probably not wear that shirt again for awhile.
More and more lately, though, I think the universe is making stuff like this happen so I will just, you know, get over myself. I can’t control everything, as much as I might try, and I need to just learn to do my best and move on. Another reminder of this happened on the way back from SC on Sunday. It was Valentine’s Day, just after church let out, and we stopped at a Golden Corral for lunch. My daughter was cranky and tired, the place was mobbed, and as soon as we got seated she went into full-on meltdown, having decided (why? I have no idea) that she wanted cake for lunch. Do I ever give her cake for lunch? No, I don’t. I barely give her cookies, and only one special occasions. But suddenly, it was all that would placate her.
I was so tired. We’d been traveling, not sleeping well, and I just was so over everything. So we’re there at the GC, Sasha’s screaming in her high chair, and I am insisting she has to eat a real lunch. Everyone around us is staring, I’m starting to sweat, and then I feel this tap on my shoulder. I turn and there’s this older woman, a grandmother type, smiling at me. “What does the baby want?” she asked. I sighed and said, “Cake for lunch. But I can’t give to her.” She gave me the most sympathetic look, then reached down to her plate, picked up a cookie, and handed it to me. I said, “Oh, no. You don’t have to do that.” But she just smiled and said, “It’s okay. Really. Take it.” I knew it was not the right thing to do. That good parents do not give sweets for lunch. But at that moment, I looked at that woman’s kind eyes and I took that cookie and handed it to Sasha. She stopped crying, and everyone around us got to finish their meals in peace. “Thank you,” I said, and she nodded, then turned back around to finish her meal.
I remember hearing an expression once that was something like, “Is this the hill you want to die on?” And while I thought I did at first, I actually did not want to die on cake hill at the Golden Corral. And I am so, so grateful that this mother of five, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of four (as she told me proudly when they stopped by to say goodbye as they left) for reminding me of that. I know it could happen anywhere, but this is just one thing I love about the South. People are just so kind, it’s like everyone’s family. For better or for worse.