Fifty Years: And This Is Who She Is

And this is what she does.

I’ve been digging on Nick Cave for a few years now. Rings of Saturn is amazing. This is who she is and this is what she does.

It’s not my favorite Nick Cave song, but it fits.

My mom painted this picture of me. I’m not sure of the year, but if I had to guess, it’s about 1971.

This was the year that I learned I was no longer a princess.

This was the year that my stomach started hurting.

This was the year that I stopped reflecting my narcissistic father.

This was the year when my smile was pulled down.

I see it in the portrait.

I see my mother’s signature. I see that she painted “mom” under her name.

Fifty years have passed.

I am still my mother’s daughter. She is so much older now. She will leave me. I can’t fathom that, you guys. I can’t. But it will happen.

This portrait sits against a wall in my bedroom. It had been mostly covered up for a year. Because I had a desk and a computer and monitors set up for my home office.

I disassembled my work from home office today. I am firmly entrenched back in my normal cubicle life.

Working from home is way better than being in the office, but I was happy to reclaim this space in my bedroom. This space where I can see myself. From so long ago.

I wish I could reach back in time and stroke her hair. I wish I could tell her that everything will be okay. I so wish I could. Because it is true.

Fifty years have passed since my mom painted this picture.

She painted it at the Cincinnati Art Museum in a class. I was the model. I remember seeing the other portraits. I remember how hard it was to sit still. I remember someone bringing me a little bottle of Coke. Remember those?

I remember thinking that my mom’s was the best.

Of course it was.

I’m hers. How could it not be?

Fifty years have passed. They weren’t an easy fifty years.

But here I am.

This is who she is and this is what she does.

So, this is my favorite Nick Cave song. It’s a murder ballad, it makes me feel strong and invincible. I have no idea what that says about me.


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  • Little did that little girl know how many people she would have such a positive influence on with her writing, her wit, her stories, oh my God her stories!, and that she would find her Randy. I’m so happy I found your blog. Thank you!

  • Don’t you just hate the old adages about time being the best educator? We need this stuff when we’re young and could fix things for the better. All knowledge we accrue later on only points out the deficiencies we allowed ourselves to live with.
    Having said that, all knowledge is good, no matter when it’s experienced and learned from, although it can piss you off.
    I admire the woman you’ve become – would you have turned out this wonderful without the burden of your father? (And in your mother’s eyes, you were adorable!)

  • Let’s see, ’71? That was the year I got my first real motorcycle, albeit a little one, as I was ten.
    My mom painted also, but mostly wilderness stuff. She did paint Freckles, our German Short Haired Pointer, though, although she didn’t like the way it came out. My dad liked it and made a frame for it and hung it in the living room. Everyone was glad it was there after Freckles died.
    That is a cute portrait. It is strange to think of us as the children we once were, but damn it, those children are still in there. Until they’re not…
    I was kind of an indifferent little prick to my mom, sometimes, and had I known in ’71 that I would only have her for twenty more years, it most likely wouldn’t have changed much, as twenty years is an uncountable eternity to a ten year old. Or at least to me when I was a ten year old.
    Now twenty years is a year short of how far we’ve made it into the 2000’s.
    “This is who she is and this is what she does.”
    I wish I would have had that to explain Briana to the many people who have come to me for an explanation over the years, as if I would somehow have something more than what their own eyes and ears told them to make sense of her.
    You can’t make sense of everyone.
    I’m comfortable with that now. So at least there’s that…

  • Fifty years of good and bad. Triumphs and tragedies. I see that cute face–on the cusp of life’s lessons and I think of LIFE that is ahead for her.
    I love pictures like this, when everything before has now become the past.
    A beautiful snapshot in time. Captured by the one person who knew you best! Priceless!

  • For a moment I was tempted to ask if things have gotten better in fifty years. It seems to be the nature of life that some things get better, some things get worse, and then there’s a whole lot of shit that’s just weird, but I hope you know you’ve made the world a better place for others. Maybe that’s hard to hear but it’s true.
    For instance you’ve introduced me to Nick Cave. And that’s just one thing you’ve done.

    • Let me tell you…in no uncertain terms. Yes. Yes my life is so much fucking better. And this may sound like I am pandering, but it is in part to you and the other people who have stuck with me for years. You have no idea how much you’ve kept me going. That is true. That is honest.

By Michelle


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