Jilly D.

Livid vivid: A photograph that lied

In Pictures and memories, Uncategorized on February 13, 2013 at 1:25 am

Windblown and sunbleached wild head of hair, full beard and straw colored mustache. A pale mint cotton oxford shirt, sleeves rolled up, weathered bluejeans and both hands grip the handrail on the front porch. Sam stares into the camera with a smirking ferocity.

Straw colored sleeveless jumper revealing tanned arms crossed in front, head turned towards him. Wisps of long auburn hair aloft in the hot breeze with a rosy cheek-pinching smile.

Those who gaze upon our image standing in front of our cabin stop and stare.

“You look so happy.”

I stare at that picture. Really? That everyone mistakes this moment as a golden memory just because someone caught it on camera confirms my belief that people see what they imagine and not necessarily what is there.

Hopping mad. Ready to scream, kick and fight.

The previous eight weeks I’d planted, hoed, watered, weeded, and tended 1,000 row feet of Wando peas. That doesn’t mean much too most folks but I knew Sam had more than a vague idea since he’d watched me sweat.

“Having fun yet?” he’d asked on numerous occasions when he’d found me in the pea patch working as hard and as fast as I could to insure a bounty crop for those who’d pay premium for old-fashioned shelling peas. The pea patch laid just west of the fenced pens and chute facility where the American Elk and European Deer couldn’t reach them.

That day Cody Mikalunas called to arrange a pickup of deer and elk to transport to his ranch. He’d arrived and Sam directed him to back his trailer through the pea patch. The jerk seemed to have made a point of driving on top of my precious plants instead of the dirt in the row between. Sam didn’t say anything about him killing my pea plants and the two men acted as though it didn’t matter. And I got mad.

I got madder when Cody asked to take our picture. I couldn’t look into the camera lens for fear I’d spit in Cody’s face. Instead I looked at Sam and put on the most sarcastic smile I could muster without crying.  Belittled by their manly man bullshit, I kept my mouth shut.   My inside rage seems self-evident by my body language in the photo. Why doesn’t anyone else see it? Yes, I loved Sam, but I was mad in that polaroid moment. I was mad at Sam for being a foil to Cody’s scam. Smile. Candid.

I got really mad when Cody sent us the 8X10 picture instead of paying us for the animals he’d bought.  Mad at myself that I’d so graciously offered them a supper where meat flew off the grill and the dogs had nothing to lick off the plates. Mad that I’d originally done the internet research to find their family farm in the Catskills, convinced Sam to take a day trip and visit their farm operation, and madder still that I hadn’t said anything or stood up to them taking advantage of us in so many ways that day.

This photo is one of several I see everyday to remind me of the good times and the bad. Our life wasn’t always pleasurable. It was joyful. Huge difference. All the complications of love, not just pleasure.

I don’t look happy in that photo. That’s Joy on my face.

  1. Don’t know why I didn’t see the anger as such. I saw the vitality and I saw you turning toward him with energy. Maybe I saw the intensity between you that was deeper than the anger. I don’t get it, but even in a photo Vic took where I’m shooting him the bird, love comes through stronger than the anger–and I was furious at him.
    I’m glad you have such a photo of the two of you. Each one I have of Vic and me together is precious. It makes me sad that in the six years before my father’s death, there are no photos that I can find and certainly none of me with him. These precious images of our lives.
    Thanks for another powerful essay. You never fail to move me and make me think.

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