I admit it – I did not take this photo. That is me, sitting in my Grandma’s living room when I was 13. I remember feeling quite grownup that day as my younger brother and sisters were outside playing, but I was in the house with the grownups discussing grownup things.
I found it in a folder full of old photos and odds and ends my sister gave me after my mother died. The photo was badly faded and scratched and I thought I would see what I could do to bring it back to life. Technically I’m satisfied with the results. But… I think part of the charm and mystery of old photos is how they look old, the details fading into time along with our memories.
Something a bit odd happened when I restored the colour – that top came flooding back, it was a fairly loose, light woolen weave with that wallpaper-floral print. It had a light satiny slip underneath. Someone gave it to me used and it retained the vague odour of mothballs. I loved it – wore it until it was deeply out of style and then saved it for another ten years or so.
Sadly, it looked just awful – but when you’re 13, at least for me, it was about so much more than how it looked. Right around that time I bought the first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. And purloined my mother’s copy of The Sensuous Woman and spent a deliciously wicked afternoon in bed reading the entire thing cover to cover (and I have not been able to eat soft-serve ice cream since without thinking of the instructions contained there.) I didn’t tell Grandma about this new twist in my reading material. She still gave me those Reader’s Digest Condensed Books to read, which I dutifully did for another couple of years – until I twigged they were editing out the good bits and if it was worth reading I should stick with what the writer intended.