Thursday 1st August 2019

Who is this person? This is a question I kept asking myself as I worked my way through the thousand photos—printed and slides—that I was determined to digitize. Once I was finished with this project, there'd be no more lugging around the cumbersome weight of forty-plus photograph albums or boxes of slides (not to mention the gear to view the slides).

This past weekend was spent scanning in the last few albums—photos of myself and my siblings through high school. It became an eerie, disconcerting experience. The images of myself, my three brothers, and sister were hauntingly familiar, as if I knew these children, but could reach them only in my dreams.

Why was this? Had I changed so much? Am I such a different person than I was at five year's old? Twenty? Forty? Or am I essentially the same—just with a lot more literal and figurative baggage.

I'm pretty slow to anger, but I can still swear like a sailor when I get there. (I know from first-hand experience what Lava 'made from pumice' Soap tastes like—it was the brand we kept in our downstairs bathroom and handiest for our mother to grab when our mouths did kick off.
I still have a vivid and active imagination that is always 'on', day and night. (My husband will vouch for the numbers of times I've been in peril during my dreams).

A piece of music can still move me to feelings of melancholy, deep peace, great excitement, or a nostalgic visit. Music is a solid connection to my past. My mother used to sing "The Happy Wanderer" to us when we were traveling. I can still 'hear' her sing it to this day and it still brings me great comfort. I will always love the music of The Beatles, The Supremes, and Leslie Gore—when I listen to their songs I'm a teenager again.

I still love being in 'nature', especially stunning scenery, beautiful gardens, wildlife...

I still love water—whether swimming or watching the waves roll in or listening to it gurgle over rocks in a river.

I am still impatient, always wanting to cut to the chase, get to the result or the end (not the best quality for a writer!).

I am still a finisher. At the end of the day I have to know I've done something. Ticked another to-do box, completed a project or got it well on the way (this is a good quality for a writer!).

I still get very restless, fidgety, peripatetic. I need to constantly be doing something, especially with my hands (knitting fits in very well). Before discovering I could keep the characters in my books on the move, I was keeping on the move myself, which is why I've lived in 5 states bordering Canada and 3 corners of the USA as well as the UK. (It's much, much easier and cheaper to move my characters!)

I still do not want to be owned by 'stuff'. It's not that I don't have stuff, I just don't want a lot of it. It isn't going to make me happy and it does not work well when one moves a lot! I had one costly experience with thinking stuff could make me happy. A friend of mine once bought a brand new Camaro. She was so happy with it that I eventually came to believe a Camaro would make me happy too. So I did it- I bought a brand new Camaro IROC with T-Tops. A gas-guzzling monster. One wintry day I drove it to up to Vancouver BC and it snowed. We were headed to Whistler for some skiing. The car handled like an elephant in an ice arena and we were lucky to make it back in one piece. Within a week I had sold it. And bought a used VW Rabbit (same red color as the Camaro). That was my big lesson that stuff doesn't buy happiness. I've never forgotten it.

I still love adventure. We kids had loads of them growing up in Geneva, New York, on the shores of Seneca Lake. We lived on a street built smack through the middle of corn fields, cherry orchards, and woods. We made forts in the summer, carved caves into snow banks in winter, sledded, skated, biked, climbed trees, camped, smoked cigarettes (no warnings back then!), went to war, made peace, spied—life was one big adventure and it all took place outdoors. The last time I slept in a tent was about twenty-five years ago and after zipping and unzipping out of my sleeping bag and mosquito net and tent flap every time I needed a bathroom visit, I decided to give it up. Now I can afford hotels with ensuite bathrooms. So now my characters have the 'physical' adventures—I'm okay with that.

I've put the photos away now. They are all preserved in Dropbox. Someday I will open up the files and look at them again. Someday. It's been good to reminisce but it's time to move on. I may not remember exactly what the little girl in the photos thought of the experiences she had in her early years, but these photos of my life are a good reminder that deep inside I AM still the same and that all my life experiences help to inspire my writing. And for that I am very grateful.