If there’s a photo that tells the story of my daughter, it’s the one on the wall in my kitchen. Blue eyes wide and shining. Mouth opened wide to show off Chiclet teeth. Nose scrunched up the way her father’s does when he laughs.
And skin absolutely coated in dirt.
Instead I’m marveling over another photo, discovered by happenstance as I combed through an overwhelming archive of digital images on my computer looking for a copy of “dirty face” for a project. Because like a good portion of photos that I’ve snapped of my daughter, that one was captured while I was wearing two hats. Mom and reporter.
In my archives are hundreds of photos taken as the latter, many of which ended up in the pages of the Democrat at one time or another. It’s surreal at times to know that across this county there are hundreds of cut-out photos plastered on refrigerators and pasted in scrapbooks with my name below them.
Beside a few seconds that I spent gathering the requisite caption information, for many of those people it’s the only connection we have.
Many of those people.
But not all.
Because as I worked my way through the album from the first ever Jeff Fest in Jeffersonville, on the hunt for the digital copy of the photo hanging on my kitchen wall, something caught my eye.
A girl, blowing bubbles.
I remembered the photo; remembered taking it, remembered submitting it to the paper, remembered it appearing in the paper.
I’d simply forgotten who was in it.
Because when I took it, that girl was just a cute girl blowing bubbles. Today she’s more like an addition to my family, the teenage babysitter/adopted big sister to my daughter. For two summers, she’s helped my daughter while away the non-school hours so I can concentrate on work. For a year and a half, she’s joined us on car trips and movie nights, she’s carved Halloween pumpkins and made me birthday cupcakes.
She’s walked by a photo of my dirt-covered daughter hundreds of times, and not once did it occur to me that the subject of the OTHER photo I shot that day is standing in my kitchen. For once, I know how the kid who’s got a newspaper clipping with my name on it turns out.
It may be time to frame that photo.