Just for fun, or perhaps in some deep-rooted yet light-hearted passive-aggressive schadenfreudian slip (feel free to psychoanalyze and/or judge – your conclusions are probably right), this week I participated in Throwback Thursday on Facebook and uploaded a profile picture of my 22-ish year old self.
That was fun, but now it’s time to change back.
Whereas in real life, the change over the past 28-ish years has been gradual and natural, going from Throwback Thursday to Reality Friday (some things are just too serious to alliterate) has presented a challenge similar to one I’ve experienced with my struggle for identity as Hippie Cahier.
Regular readers (and again, I thank you beyond words for that) have noticed that I frequently change my blog theme, which is, of course, ill-advised if one is seeking to establish a brand or otherwise make oneself instantly recognizable. I have consistently maintained that I am consistently inconsistent, so the frequent blog theme change is either in keeping with that brand or it is simply further support of another consistent assertion, that I’m not here to sell anything.
Changing my blog theme has become almost a hobby, one far less expensive than redecorating the living room, not to mention easier on the knees.
Some may also have noticed that, especially lately, I’ve changed my “gravatar” or profile picture more frequently. I, myself, am fascinated and/or amused at how much anxiety is behind the search for my online identity.
On both Facebook and the Hippie Cahier blog, I’ve been using a selfie taken just before a face-plant in the snow on my snowman-making misadventure a couple of months ago. Since we’ve all had just about enough of this winter, it’s time to change to something without a winter coat and scarf with barren trees in the background.
One very big obstacle to including an updated photo is the fact that I hate having my picture taken.
As a matter of fact, if you have time to waste and you’re not into updating your blog theme, find a thesaurus, look up the word ‘hate,’ and find the strongest synonym.
Multiply that times googol and that’s how much I dislike having my photo taken, so much so that it totally derailed some offers for modeling jobs when I was around 18 to 22-ish.
I’ve considered trying another selfie, possibly sporting the new big, geeky reading glasses I picked up at the dollar store, based solely on a rare compliment from a boy whose opinion shouldn’t matter but, for reasons that shall forever elude me, does. But that would require more effort than I’m willing to expend.
I got a belly button ring when I was 36. My father died a few months later. I am haunted to this day by the notion that there is some connection between these events.
I recently played around with a fun “paper doll”-like program that I stumbled upon online, and came up with a teenager hippie cartoon, but let’s face it, I’m not a teenager, and my father would be appalled at that bare midriff. Appalled, I tell you.
After a good deal of thought, I’ve decided on two contenders for the “real” hippie gravatar and some reasons for rejecting the other contenders:
One is the original picture I chose when I had every intention of remaining completely anonymous. The hippie kid still has a place in my heart for the childlike adventure “she” represents. That anonymity has faded slightly. I’ve met four of you and 75% of the time a pleasant off-blog acquaintance has been the result.
It’s that one-out-of-four experience that makes the hippie kid bittersweet for me.
Adorable and forever young
I’m searching for a summer Hippie and a more modern photo, so the one I used last summer should be in the running, but it’s not. Because it’s blonde Hippie.
It may not look blonde to most, but it’s at the beginning of another summer hair experiment, the second time I’ve tried seeing life through the eyes of Those Who Have More Fun. Turns out, I’m not really blonde. So not me.
Time and again, I come back to one true “Hippie Cahier” photo, which I’ve re-established as my gravatar, unless and until a good selfie of me in my geeky readers comes to pass.
One reason I’ve changed from this photo is that it is misleading because it isn’t current. It was taken at least fifteen years ago. In putting it back up, I thought I’d tell why it is perhaps my favorite photo of me as Karen, and fitting of me as Hippie Cahier.
The photo was taken by someone I knew for only a few days, but in considering why it is that this is my favorite image of me, it seems to me that he is one of the few men I’ve ever known who truly saw me.
Maybe if I’d known him for longer, that would have changed, and maybe that’s the beauty of only knowing him — and of his only knowing me, if I’m going to be fair about it — for a few days.
When I think about why it is that this picture seems to capture “me,” lyrics come to mind from Jackson Browne’s “Fountain of Sorrow,” which is a more depressing title than the sentiment I intend to suggest.
I wasn’t posing for the photo. I didn’t know the camera was out, which probably would have changed the shot entirely.
” . . You were turning ’round looking to see who was behind you and I took your childish laughter by surprise. . . “
The story of how we came to know one another, and for only that few days, is rather tangled and hard to follow. He and his teenage son and a friend were stopping over in DC on their way from their home in Europe to a vacation home in the Bahamas. I ended up showing them around on behalf of a shared acquaintance who was unexpectedly called away. Of the three, the photographer was the only one fluent in English. He acted as translator during our adventures.
That morning we’d done some sightseeing and brunch in town and had gone swimming in the afternoon. They tried to teach me to juggle, much to all our amusement, and after a full day, we met up again for an evening outdoor concert.
Although I didn’t speak their language, I was at that time quite fluent in Teenager, and I’d heard “Coca Cola” coming through in the brooding tone of a boy who was not enjoying his summer holiday.
Just out of frame in this picture is that brooding teenage boy. I was laying out a picnic for us and had just opened the cooler and handed him a Coca Cola to a receptive and enthusiastic “Thank you!”
Just at that moment, his dad called my name, and I turned to the camera’s click, without a chance to think about how much I hate having my picture taken.
That evening is one of my favorite memories, free from everyday worries — except for the fact that I will never be able to juggle, listening to good music under a beautiful starlit sky after a picnic dinner and a busy day with friends that I didn’t really know.
At the end of our visit, we exchanged gifts — I gave them one of my prized personal possessions — ironically enough, a limited edition book of photographs — and they gave me a set of juggling balls with a note tucked in that read, “Anything is possible.”
Making good memories with people I didn’t really know. That seems fitting for a personal blog profile.