The picture you see here is of me. It has always been my most favorite picture of myself. Each time I came across it, though, I’d get a strange warmth around my heart and I always smiled.
I say it was a strange warmth because I never felt warm when I saw pictures with me in them. If I wasn’t critical (too many zits), I was remembering the circumstances around which the picture was taken. Those circumstances, given my life, were usually negative, fraught with danger.
But this picture…warmth. Never could figure it out until I woke deep into the night a couple of weeks ago and there it was. The memory of why I felt so warm when I saw this image of me. Here’s why.
It was the year I got an extremely bad case of Chicken Pox. It’s the same year a bunch of construction guys gave me a ride in the bucket of a huge piece of machinery so that I wouldn’t get my shoes, socks, and dress muddy from their digging. I was seven and in First Grade in a school I don’t remember the name of in a town in Texas I’ve already forgotten. We weren’t there too long.
Prompted to go and sit in the chair in front of the camera, I did as I was told. Then this man behind the camera, who had been in a hurry and was clicking shutters as fast as he could go, all of a sudden wasn’t in such a big hurry.
I remember he stood up from his stooping position behind the camera. Across his face came the sweetest smile. He physically relaxed and propped his arm atop the camera and stared at me. Then he said, “Oh, that won’t do.” And he walked across and straightened my bangs until he was happy with them. He must have told me to smile because I did. I felt a genuine, unselfish caring from another human…and I liked that.
Now, I know some folks are saying, “Oh, Angela, he was probably a fellow who liked little girls, if you know what I mean.” To that I would say, no, he was not because I’ve never had trouble identifying those. And that is why, after all these years, each time I’ve seen that picture I feel that same feeling. Even as I write this, the emotion of that moment floods and so do my eyes.