October 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm 2 comments

I took this photo today. I was quick on the draw and I’m glad because by the time I sheathed the camera the image was gone. What you see is the silhouette of the plants on the windowsill, projected onto the wall, as the morning sun comes in the window. And now that I think about it it’s a wonder I captured it at all. The sun would have to be at just the right angle, meaning just the right time of year, just the right time of morn, the trees would have to have just few enough leaves on it, there would have to be just enough clear blue sky to let the sun through, I would have to wake up at just the right time, certainly in time to have the shades open at just the right moment. It was a two-minute long moment. The sun then stretched behind the neighbor’s house and it was over.

I almost missed it.

And of course reflection followed. I’ve already been in the “trippin” frame of mind lately, but this fleeting image sort of sent me whole hog over the edge and into reverie. One time in college my professor assigned us one word and we were to spend the afternoon painting that word. He gave us “reverie”. I was twenty and I didn’t really know what it meant, but I made a guess as to how it felt and painted a woman gazing out a window. Somber hues, soft light. The painting was just okay. I think I probably just didn’t know how to do it, not paint of course, that part came naturally, but to sink into reverie.

Now I barely have the time but I slip easily into that state anyway. I know I’m not old, nevermind that some of the folks I interact with on a regular basis were born in 1990. Cough. Sputter. Choke. I know I am in my youth, that when I look back on photos of myself now, with three children filling the house, I will think how very young I look, how rosy my cheeks are, how long my hair reaches. But that’s just the thing. The me that will look at those photos is a whole universe away, years and years away, and I know I will get there in lightning speed.

It is all so fleeting. All of it.

I mean at one point I was a girl. I lived with my parents. I slept in a white wrought-iron bed. I looked out a window onto sunny California skies. I wore a sweatshirt when it was cold, nothing more. I ate food that my mother cooked. I watched t.v. and talked on a corded phone, a rotary phone. I was that person, that person was me. That person was me? It was a lifetime ago and yet so vivid, so real that this life, this one where I sit at a laptop in Montana is entirely surreal.

I now listen to my child say things like: How ’bout we can be princesses of two lands? I am princess of Hawaii, Princess of Egypt… oh, and Princess of Texas, ‘cuz I’m a cowgirl too. And I don’t think anything of it. I only remember it when I sit down to blog. Phrases like that are commonplace, are so now that it’s almost like they don’t exist. I raise a family here, where there are rivers and grizzly bears, open spaces so open they make you worry or want to cry, and trees that turn yellow. I live here, far from the eyes of that sunny-sky family I have known my whole life and sometimes, perhaps because they aren’t seeing it, it’s as if this life of family raising isn’t happening at all.

But notions like that make me panic. It has to be happening, whether or not they can see it, because I don’t want to miss it.

These girls, these days, this me, will later be cause for nostalgia. Like the silhouette on the wall it is going to fade and disappear altogether. I guess I could click away, storing the images in the hopes of actually seeing them, of not taking them for granted, but I know I won’t. I’m just not like that. Our camera grinds itself open with nails-on-a-chalkboard sounds because too often I have left it swimming in the bottom of my bag with crushed cheddar bunnies. So that won’t work. I’ll have to keep my eyes open on my own. Somehow.

And sometimes I won’t. Already so much is lost, images and dates that can’t be brought fully into focus. But there will be other times, moments when I am brought back to this place, back to noticing, even if all the witnesses aren’t present. Maybe there isn’t anything to be done about this anyway, the gap between noticing and not, the passage of time, the memory of rotary phones and the happening-now of toddler cheeks.

Maybe not. Maybe I’m just feeling it.








Entry filed under: life lessons. Tags: , , .

Secret Stashes Right Under our Noses

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jessie stevens hess  |  October 22, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Have you ever, unexepectedly, had a scent take you back to a moment
    in time you didn’t even know you noticed the first time around? This possibly is one of my favorite sensations…. my senses seem to have an intelligence of their own reaping feeling no photo ever could.

    Observing the passage of time, not taking it for granted, seeing it for what it is… isn’t that one of the great universal challenges?


    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  October 22, 2010 at 7:33 am

      The smell thing? Definitely. Sometimes Echo’s head smells like Castle Beach, for no reason obviously since we live so far away, but I didn’t even know I knew that smell.
      And yes I guess you’re right, noticing the passage of time is one of life’s great challenges. That’s probably why I find it so difficult.


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