Friday, April 23, 2010
Jo at Fourteen
I have a dearth of old photos right now as all mine are packed ready for our move in three weeks. I hope this one, found tucked inside an old school report, will suffice for today's Sepia Saturday.
This photo is of me in my school uniform in 1971. I was fourteen years old. The first thing that strikes me about this photograph is how much younger and less sophisticated the fourteen year olds of then looked as compared to now. Yet, I don’t recall pigtails and ribbons being unusual amongst the girls of my age at school. Most of us wore white knee socks, and make-up wasn't allowed.
Although I had not yet voiced it, at the time of this picture I was starting to become fully aware and cognizant of the failing dynamics and break-down of my family. I was wary and sad. I think this shows in my eyes. Nine months later my world was to fall apart when my parents divorced and my mother brought her six daughters to live in her native Canada.
I went through a time of what I can only define as grief. It was wrenching, visceral; nothing you could push out with the heel of your hand like an aching muscle. For a long time the stars faded out. The stillness, I remember that. It was clear and fierce and full of such loneliness that the air was thick with it. I day-dreamed of my family being made whole and returning home to England, over and over again. It was a painful, humiliating reflection, the kind I both relished and resented at the same time.
But, life simply keeps on becoming. Both my parents went on to re-marry very happily, and I fell in love with Canada. I have lost my English accent, my hair is white, and I’m certainly fatter, but the girl I was still lives inside me. Looking at this photograph, I am reminded anew that it is good to revisit the hidden, often forgotten parts of ourselves.
(Me, in front of my old school many years later during our holiday in 2004.)