Saturday, August 22, 2009

photos, family and fairy gardens

I am now the mother of an eighteen-year-old kid? Boy? Man.
I am the mother of a man.
It's a fact that sits on the top of my brain but does not want to settle down inside my head.Lord have mercy.

Brian and I celebrated with Drew on a trip to Newport News, VA -- just the three of us and lots of legroom -- to see family, eat Dairy Queen chili-dogs and model for a senior '10 photo shoot.

GrantDeb Photographers amazed us with their ability to see Drew. As soon as they clicked the first shots I looked at Brian. We were both crying. For someone to really see your kid and invest time and energy to make his soul visible to the rest of the world is the essence of art, I'm thinking.

If you've read this blog at all, you know how I feel about collaboration. And this was first-rate collaboration. Drew allowed himself to risk vulnerability; Grant and Deb risked energy, time, ideas, and -- on a few shots -- life, limb and [expensive] lenses! I can't wait to see the payoff.

Did I happen to mention that we're also related? Cousins. Grant's mother and my mother are sisters. Just thought you should know so when they become famous I can ride their coattails a little bit.

Our two-and-a-half days were woven in and out with Drew-directed activities (yes, I followed him to District 9) and time catching up with family.

I'd like to think that if we lived close-by this group of blood-related people we'd be good friends. But I've never had the opportunity to know. We've always been separated by at least eight hours of drive time. Deb reminded me of reunions – weddings, graduations and such – we’d driven up to their front door and piled out of my parents' paneled station wagon. We told Drew stories of another summer just the three of us visited the Perry’s. We told him about driving in our free-to-us car during August heat with no air conditioning and the liner of the car ceiling coming loose and billowing over our heads with the interstate hot air blowing in through the opened windows.
I told Robin that the beauty of family is that you don’t have to do a lot of ice-breaking to get them. We could sort of start talking mid-conversation without many of the usual necessary qualifiers and disclaimers. We share genes and history and ancestral legend. You need a notebook in your hand while we talk? Of course you do! I get it. I get you.

Years and miles have kept me from knowing much of anything about the daily lives of my relatives. During this trip I was overcome with the strong sense that I wanted to know them more.

I had barely ever had the privilege to spend much time with Paige and Madison. They are sweet and beautiful and winsome. When I drove up to their house for the first time they led me straight to their garage studio, inviting me into their plans for a backyard fairy garden. They showed me the houses and toadstools (Toadstools! I had forgotten how much I loved toadstools when I was a little girl. What a perfect, polka-dotty shelter for tiny forest dwellers.) They helped me imagine the lovely resting place they would create for magical friends. As they twirled around us with words and works of expectation I could actually see this place, still uncreated.

I loved Paige’s words when she showed me her fairy house: This [the yellow twirly pipe cleaner] was a mistake. But I decided I liked it. She now shares knowledge with all great artists, scientists and discoverers -- mistakes can be beautiful.

I’m wondering if Paige and Madison’s fairy friends might just skip the houses and curl up inside those dimples?
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