This past Thanksgiving was the that I've been able to spend with my family in four years. I've missed a lot of holidays, even a couple of Christmases, and there was a wonderful ordinariness of being about to spend a Turkey Day around relatives. This was also the first time I'd managed to come home since I moved at the beginning of September, and it was great to be able to spend time together now that I am officially Feeling Better (sponsored by Big Pharma!). When I was home in the summer, I was actually incapable of really enjoying their company. I was all miserable, all the time. Now, with a little time and a lot of psychotropics to the good, a small shaky happiness sprouting somewhere in the compost of my heart, I was much better company.
My brother's lovely girlfriedn, Kacy, was also in attendance, even though she's just undergone oral surgery and had her jaw wried shut. I had a great deal of fun with my mother, figuring out how to liquify meat (unsuccessfully) and pumpkin pie (successfully!). Since my parents were in a giddy mood, and I seemed unlikely to slip into the Black Abyss My Own Fucking Angst, my parents through that this joyous occasion would be a great opportunity to bring out a couple of family albums and to show Kacy what Michael and I were like as children.
I am usually not very fond of pictures of myself from when I was a child. I have an Ugly Complex, something I have chronicled on this blog before. I am greadually getting better, slowly shifting my mental weight from Ugly into merely Very Fucking Weird territory. Still, looking at pictures of myself from when I was small reminds me of the absolute horror I went through during that time as a quantum magnet for bullying, and taps into my Ugly complex in ways that tend to make me very uncomfortable.
There are two pictures of me, though, that I rather like, and it just so happened that the book my parents brought out contained it. The pictures were taken on my brother's fifth birthday, which would make me seven. My borther and I, along with about ten party guests, are doing some kind of crafty activity in the basement. All the of the other kids are engaged in what they are doing, attacking peices of contruction paper or trying to glue sequins to each other. I am sitting at one end of a small table by myself, my feet propped up, holding a marker as though it were a cigarette in long holder, twirling it between two fingers. In the first picture, I am staring into space, in my own world, as I bring the marker to my lips and pretend to inhale. In the second picture, I have noticed the camera and am the only one staring into it directly, now pretending to blow smoke rings at whoever is behind it (probably my dad).
I love the strangeness of this picture. By seven I already had a rich inner life that often felt more vivid and varied than my real one, and was perfectly content to escape into it anywhere and anytime. Even a child's birthday party could be transmuted into the bustle of a Parisian cafe. I also love the comfortableness I exude in it. I love how perfectly content I am to do my own thing, no matter how it looks to anyone else. My skin might be strange, but it is mine and in those pictures, I own it.
It's only now, only very lately, that I can say I feel that comfortable again. That's not to say I am still not wrestling with my Ugly complex, but even through this fight, I am finding something that feels like peace. It started, oddly enough, when I got rid of the last of my oldest clothes and started to really love just about everything that I wore. I've gotten bolder with my hair, and my new, very pink, very very punky 'do makes me happier than I can express. Yesterday, I caught myself singing aloud on the subway, caring not a whit for who heard me, and then actually startling myself with how comfortable I was in that moment.
I feel like I am seven again, reinventing myself every moment and fearlessly living in my own internal ladnscape. This time around, however, anyone who trties to beat my strangeness out of me is going to have a bit more trouble on their hands.