i am her story


When I photograph her old photographs, something happens that’s hard to explain in the way that a suite of emotion is hard to express.  I  obsess over chronology– how old was she in that one? where was she living? did she know my father yet? who was behind the camera?  No reveal is forthcoming; I can only guess about her circumstance as I comb for clues in her smile, in her gestures and stylish clothes.

But the biggest surprise and strangest sensation is felt while staring out from behind my mother’s eyes. There is a synergy between us that cannot be emulated by any other pairing. I live behind her eyes in many captured moments.  I smirk and seduce and laugh as broadly as she once did.

With words and images I make a futile attempt to carry her into the future. In this retrospective realm, I meet her again in her winter coats, or with her pigtails and ballet flats, or laughing with her sisters, or on the glamorous streets of Paris, or on the stage of a downtown theatre, dressed in the costume of her character, or walking in The Village,  or holding my tiny hand as we cross the busy streets of Manhattan.

I am her story and she is mine.

Published by deirdremendoza

Deirdre is the author of the story collection, Real Lives of Married People, and the creator of DOGGED, a series about memorable canines and their human friends. Her writing has been published in Ms., The L.A. Times, Variety, WWD, and many other publications. She teaches creative writing at colleges and universities in Southern California. Coming in 2021 WG workshops!

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