Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shining Moment

There is a photo on my cubicle wall at work, of some of the finest photographic composition I’ve ever seen – color, motion, subjects … and an ineffable *presence* in a moment – better captured than 99.9% of all images I’ve ever seen, professional or candid.

It is of two girls, one small and pale, with a shock of bright hair; the other a little older, face joyous in a paroxysm of laughter.  They are holding each other, the bigger sister leaning sideways and the younger turned toward the older, one hand delicately on the other’s arm, her other tangled in a mass of curls, planting a firm kiss on the big girl’s cheek.  Knowing these girls as I do, the sight of this image gives me very real, personal joy – but even a stranger would be hard put not to smile at the photo.  It is boldly lovely, filled with glee, and features the best parts of humanity, affection and laughter.

It was taken almost three years ago, and it was only a couple of months ago I learned the secret, the suffusion of giggles I can *hear* when I see this picture.

The little one had just farted – and was holding on to her sister, to prevent any escape.

For me, this does nothing to dent the feelings the photo inspires.  Knowing these two as I do, being able to hear their gulping, awkward breaths, the younger one’s high. strong cackle and the older one’s horror in amusement, her resisting laugh – knowing she was TRAPPED, but okay with that – knowing who taught them their gleefully improper joy in harmless infractions against normality … my smile only settles more deeply.  I can think of how far back in the generations this kind of giggling response to a little subversion goes.  In my family, the phrase “Oh my LAAAAANDS” is connected to a similarly not-at-all-guilty(-but-a-little-maybe-furtive) chortling smile.  This laughter beats in our veins.

Little Red has, I think, always been fearless, always been a little evil in the way most of the people I love seem to enjoy the most.  Her big sister is has this edge too, but the one I called “monster baby” almost from the time she was born at all may be more the evil-humor showman.  (May be ....)  She once asked the Mass of Curls to sing a song for her, and when big sister demurred, she said, “Good” – a taut riposte from a wit nimble even at a very young age.  Who needs sour grapes when your sense of timing is perfect and you have the funniest/meanest response handy?

Mass of Curls, for her part, could give “dry” and “wry” a run for their money, and go far toward wearing out out their utility.  She’s owned me outright for every minute of her XYZ-number of years, and I find myself frankly honored if she ever laughs at a word I say, or enjoys a moment of time spent with me.  As amazed as I am when I look at the remarkable people generous enough to love me or call my friend – when these girls love me even for a moment, it grips me at my very core.

I witness these two lives, even from afar, with absolute fascination and no small amount of glee of my own.

I may not have been there for the fart a few years ago.  But I can share in elder sister’s entrapment and giggles, even beyond that moment’s fleeting experience.

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