image via newyorkette
i don't have as many photos of my mother when she was young as i would like. the ones i do have feel precious, like they belong in a jewel box and not a photo album. there is one in particular that i love. it's of her laying out with her mother on a beach somewhere, maybe florida. there are rows and rows of beach-chairs behind them, with people on their stomachs and backs, sweating into their towels, and then, in the top right corner of the photo, the sea begins to sprawl out behind them. my grandmother is sitting up, with her knees pulled up a bit closer to her body. maybe she was feeling shy in front of the camera. on her head is a bathing cap, neon green and almost fluffy looking. she is wearing a one piece in a swirling black and white geometric pattern. it must be the early sixties. actually maybe the mid sixties because my mother looks like she might be fourteen or so. my mother is stretched out right next to my grandmother, her thigh touching her mother's bent knee. she has on a yellow bikini with ruffled trim. her eyes are closed. her blonde hair is shiny and the ends hit the tops of her shoulders. everything about her looks bright and young and golden. her mouth is parted and her fingers rest on the fabric of her bikini bottoms. she looks perfect. and though it's a photograph, when i stare at it it's as if i'm watching a short flickering film. i see so much movement, i see the moment so completely. i see the force of her youth so clearly.