It was the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years at college. It would be the last summer I spent in Richardson, Texas, and the last summer at home. Six months later, I’d meet my husband. The following summer, I’d be studying French in Switzerland. A few months after that, I’d be married.
My father, an amateur photographer, had, until this house, always had a dark room where he developed his own prints. In recent years, with color film, he’d turned to easy, cheap commercial prints.
In the past year, since I’d lost my braces and traded in my glasses for contacts, he’d been taking more pictures of me. This day, the summer Texas heat lured me outside to brush my blonde hair dry in the sun.
I now know that scenes a photographer spots don’t last long. My children joke about the “candid” shots I make them pose for. It’s because when I see them in a shot I want, by the time I take my camera out and get ready to take the picture, the view that had attracted me is gone. I make them get back into the pose I first spotted. They are often laughing in these photos about the “natural” pose they’ve resumed.
So, I can appreciate the fact that my father didn’t have much time to take his photo. He didn’t ask ask me to change my position, just snapped it while I was brushing my hair.
It was a lovely shot of summer.
Nine months later, as I was preparing a photo album for my new boyfriend, I included this summer shot. I’d gotten the idea for the photo album when I saw a beautiful photo of a friend of my new boyfriend’s who might have become a girlfriend. I asked the guy who’d taken the photo if he’d do a photo shoot with me. He agreed and we set up a Saturday afternoon to walk around the Michigan State campus taking candid shots.
It taught me something about myself and my new boyfriend. I’m a bad liar and he doesn’t like to be lied to. By then, we were spending all our spare time together. I had to lie about some other engagement in order to carve out time for the photo shoot. He liked the photo album, but warned me that next time, instead of planning a surprise, I should tell him what I was doing.
Less than a year later, we were married.
I had the summer photo blown up to a poster to send him during Basic Training. He taped it up in his locker.
He was told later that his Sergeant started to rip the poster down, grumbling about cheesecake. A fellow soldier, panicked, yelled at the Sergeant, “That’s his wife.” The Sergeant put the poster back up.
The Army doesn’t mess with wives.
Last year, my grandson, eyeing the framed poster that now hangs in my bedroom, said, “That doesn’t look like you.”
In my mind, dear grandson, I will always be 19.