Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Faux Family Guy

Considering that I myself never documented my life with a camera, it's notable how many photos of me I seem to have. Other people take them and send me copies. This skews what gets documented, but that would be true regardless. Many of the photos strike me as misleading in that they evoke a story or even a world that never was. (Or maybe they show a truth I didn't see at the time? Nah.)

An awful lot of the pictures are of me with a young child, which makes sense as that's the sort of picture a friend who is a parent, particularly a new parent, will take. I wouldn't say those photos are misleading, particularly, but they do give an unbalanced sense of what has made up my life. But there's another sort of photo I'm finding, where the imagery of the photo and the body language and the setting all add up to something that looks like the photo is me and my own family.

This one, for example, taken at the second display of the Names Project quilt in Washington DC. This is me and my friend Charlotte Hoppe, with whom I have (regretfully) fallen out of touch. We were in a van pool together when we commuted from Cambridge MA to Wang Laboratories in Lowell MA, and that van pool was definitely a fun crowd. We spent at least an hour a day together in a small space; that adds up to something. I stayed in touch with Charlotte for about ten years after I left Wang. She and her husband moved to the DC area. She had twin boys and then not too long later another son. We must have arranged to meet up at the quilt. This must be when her third son was a newborn.

It's a fairly inert photo, but it definitely (and falsely) implies "family", doesn't it?

But not so much as this one. This is from one of the Brown Generic Reunions, taken at a corner of Wriston Quad. The woman in the photo is Jessica, whose daughter's bat mitzvah I attended last October. But her daughter hadn't been born yet. Here she is holding her son Adam (now about 16). The young boy holding my hand is Max, not related to me or Jessica; he is the son of my roommate Michele who was in a picture I posted yesterday. Max is now a freshman at Vassar.

As I say, the subtext is that this is a family photo. Except this is not a family.

[Coincidence of the day: Max is at Vassar. My friend Max (female) -- who will read this -- went to Vassar. Charlotte and her way-cute husband Buddy Cunningham went to Vassar thirty years ago, two years ahead of Max. It's Vassar day on my livejournal!]

Here's another fun photo from a Brown Generic Reunion a few years after the previous one (that's the doorway to Chapin House behind us). Jessica has a new baby here (the recently bat-mitzvahed Rebecca). My friend K. and I are playing porter, since Jessica was traveling with two small children and had many bags. Does it seem like a family? A little. Not as much as the others, but I wanted to show me wearing one of my alltime favorite (alas long departed) t-shirts.

These pictures would definitely work better scanned in properly in color. But you get the idea.
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