Friday, October 15, 2010

Dolls and Darkrooms

Here's my earlier post on this subject 

using same great painting by 
Steve Walker.

As a little boy I didn’t worry what people thought. I liked dolls, purses, makeup, jewelry, sewing and photography. Later I learned that real boys don’t like dolls, purses, makeup and jewelry. I knew that I was a real boy, but I didn’t like the things real boys liked, except photography. So I hid those parts from others and eventually from myself. As a teenager I spent a lot of time processing film and photos in a darkroom. In some ways I’ve lived most of my life in a darkroom.

Now I’m a young senior citizen. More than half of my life is behind me. I’ve hidden from myself and others for so long that I sometimes wonder if I can ever let the real me show. Does he even exist or did I kill him just as surely as if I had driven my VW Beetle into the family garage and closed the door with the engine running. 

A few minutes ago an online acquaintance texted me that he’d been burned by people who weren’t honest about who they are. He asked if I used a pseudonym online. I told him yes. He said “I wish you well” and then a little green bright spot on my computer screen lost its color and turned gray. I wanted to tell him, I’m trying to be me. I really am. But I’ve hidden so long that light hurts my eyes, sun burns my skin, sound hurts my ears and I feel like I’m going to melt and sizzle away like a chip of ice on a hot stove.

Then I hear another voice saying, “Oh come on, stop with all the drama and angst already. You’re a grown up man. Act like one. Get on with your life. Quit living in the past. Stop the pity party. Get over yourself. Life is tough, then you die. Besides, why would our Father in Heaven do that to anyone?"

Then I hear a kinder voice saying, “You really are OK just the way you are. And you are multi-faceted. That’s OK. Diamonds are like that, too.”


  1. So have you taken any of those early interests back up?

  2. Hey Quiet Song, great question. I've enjoyed photography throughout my life. I guess my various attache cases, camera bags and backpacks have served as purses. I've often enjoyed buying costume jewelry and fine jewelry for my wife, but I have little interest in it beyond that. When I was a young man, I enjoyed dressing as an old man for Halloween, including the use of white hair spray, but now that I really am gray and balding, I don't have to do a thing to achieve that look. It was fun to build a doll house for my daughter many Christmases ago, but actual dolls hold no appeal for me.

  3. Some of us girls like a guy with a feminine side. I wish people wouldn't hide what they like, because I think they'll always find someone who appreciates and accepts it.

  4. Alex, this reminds me of the Gandhi quote "Be the change that you want to see in the world."

  5. That post was hauntingly tragic. You have a gift for writing.

    In response to the use of pseudonyms - even people who use their real names are hiding things. There is no one in the world that does not put on masks, and play parts to one degree or another. It is sad that he would just sign off like that. I am sorry.

  6. Thanks, Kiley! Perhaps the masks we wear tell as much about us as anything they cover.

  7. Boy, do I ever hear what you are saying about being hidden, Ned. Thanks for the post.