Sometimes, I forget that my mother was once a girl. Her hometown stretch of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, adheres to the memory of her youth, a direct correlation to my current existence. I know of her adolescence through the pictures. On the front of her leather photo album is a printer paper picture. The photo is an invitation to the multitude of images inside that capture her youth eternally.
She kicks her little feet and swims towards her stepfather, who now roams the heavens unbeknownst to that little girl. In the distance of the image, a woman exists, a mother – a mother of seraphic nature, a mother of god and nature, a mother of Southern hospitality and solace cooking. The little girl is familiar. I know her face, but how? I flip three pages and see a new girl: mullet, braces, and sweater. She looks familiar. A childhood friend? I flip the page.
A vast beach scene stands beyond a figure and her triumphant smize, looking just past the camera's lens. I flip the page – a reflected image, yet, this time, of a man. The beach behind him gives way to a gray silhouette poised with elbows up, camera in hand. His smile is wide and pronounced, looking behind the camera at what creates his lover's shadow. Flip. The man again, the girl at his side. They sit in a velvet booth cast in a golden hue, their shoulders pressed together, staring ahead. The girl, delighted, has her hand above her face revealing a jewel on her ring finger. "How sweet," I think. "The girl – she's engaged!" The man sat beside her, looking at her face, a smile on his. The image evokes a sort of tenderness out of me, a fairytale of seraphic delight. That little girl met her prince. Flip. Flip. Flip.
The couple now holds a child. They sit on a red couch surrounded by new characters, mostly older. The wooden molding behind them sits stark in juxtaposition to the pink swaddled baby on their laps. A little girl, I assume. "I wonder if they are scared," I think. In the image, the pink infant and her mother look at one another. Although just a picture, I think I can hear them talking. The mother's eyes study her baby as if to wonder, "How did you get here, little one?" Flip. Flip. The top of the page is labeled "2007." As I cascade down the page, I stop upon an image of the girl and her baby, who has now grown to the age of 3 years.
The girl and her child stand in a room surrounded by an ample mix of colors. The walls exhibit paintings of sun and sky. The girl's daughter holds a picture much like those behind them. The image is of a field of flowers, all of different shapes and colors. Above the flowers, buds of cotton act as clouds, shielding the flower's delicate petals from the fluorescent yellow sun at the page’s corner. I gently close the leather book before me.
With a soft raise of my head, I am greeted by a landscape. The landscape before me gives way to immense vibrance – green grass, blue sky. It looks so vibrant. I reach my hand forward to make sure it is really there and am met with the suppleness of cotton.
Art by Jade Law