We all have ghosts from our past and skeletons in our closet--some of us more than others. And no matter where I go, as long as my family is alive and well, there's something from my childhood that I can't escape. Why? Because there's photographic evidence.
One photo has tortured me all my life. My mom insisted on keeping it, in a heart-shaped frame, in the living room, and my grandmother even put it in the book of memories she made for me (I can just hear her laughing as she taped it into place).
Curious? Follow me below the fold for the story and incriminating picture...
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I don't know how old I was--quite young. Keep that in mind. So young that I don't have any real memory of what happened. I went to a family wedding with my parents. I don't even remember whose wedding it was, but it brought my cousins from Florida all the way up to Pennsylvania (a rarity), so it must have been a big deal.
One distant cousin in particular, Kayla, was a favorite playmate of mine whenever her family made the trip up. We were rather inseparable. We often caught fireflies together, and she didn't even get mad at me when I playfully threw freshly mowed grass at her. We were best friends. Here we are (and no, this isn't the picture that lives in infamy):
Look how absurdly happy I was. I don't know what I was happier about--sitting on a swing next to Kayla or the snazzy outfit my mom dressed me in that day.
I'm sure I was quite excited that Kayla could make it to the wedding. It was probably the only good thing about the wedding for a small child. Well, except the reception. Where I, flaunting my overalls and striped shirt (I swear, that's the only style I knew back then), stole the show with Kayla.
We must have gotten the idea from the wedding. I don't know why else it would have happened. But, when everybody least expected it, this happened in the corner under the flower-adorned arch. I'm sure the flashes and shutter sounds from the cameras were blinding and deafening.
It was all anybody could talk about for quite some time. Pictures were developed and displayed in our respective families' houses. As small children, of course, we didn't care. As we grew older, the picture became a bigger and bigger source of embarrassment for both of us.
Unfortunately, Kayla and I grew apart. We saw less and less of each other as time went on, and, after my grandmother (who was truly the glue holding our family together) passed away, we never saw each other again. We continued to live our separate lives until, well, Facebook happened. I don't remember who found whom, but we quickly became Facebook friends. She had gotten married and was already going through a divorce. Weird how time flies. But one day, I found a message in my inbox from her, letting me know that she heard through the grapevine that I had come out. She then said that, while we haven't been close, we have "that damn picture" that binds us together, and that she loved me and was there for me no matter what. Heartening words considering how conservative my family is.
We've changed a great deal, the two of us. Especially me. These days, of course, I'm more into dudes...and, well, non-relatives. But I do hope to see her in person again one day. Maybe we can have a picture-burning or something.