The Way Back Machine

July 28th, 2009

My grandparents lived in a tenant house in rural Kentucky on a bare hill that was brutally, baking hot in summer. No A/C of course, maybe a fan (although I don’t remember one) and a tiny kitchen that almost shimmered from the heat coming off the cooking stove. Here’s my poor mother, suffering through an August due date, several years away from my father (standing next to her) leaving her for another woman. My beloved grandmother is sitting down for a change, but usually she was toiling like a mule — cooking and serving food to family and hired hands, teaching Sunday School, weeding and watering her huge vegetable garden, wrestling ewes ready to lamb, killing chickens, putting her shoulder to a metaphorical plow every single morning of her life. My dear cousin sitting on my grandmother’s lap would eventually die too young from breast cancer that might have been cured if she hadn’t ignored it. My grandfather in his hat with his Indian-ancestor cheekbones and aloof surliness. All of us caught by the camera in the blazing afternoon sun standing on an almost-dirt yard in the middle of nowhere. There together for one moment before we moved on to meet our future selves.

7 Responses to “The Way Back Machine”

  1. Allegra Smith says:

    I love this photo. Your narrating about the people made them real to me. Frozen time, not going back, not moving forward. Including the hidden life inside your mother, present and real. Somehow different than Fridaville, and yet…

  2. frida says:

    Thank you! Not sure where that came from really–I hadn't looked at the photo in a long time.

  3. V-Grrrl says:

    I have a photo like this. I may use this post for inspiration for a post of my own.

  4. Laura says:

    I found your blog during a stroll through the www. I'm so…just astonished.

    I lived in Charleston for six years and also lived in Austin. Hip is not required to be on the planet and sample life. I've been to Marfa (in the middle of the no-where of West TX), Burning Man used to happen right on the beach in SF and I've never been and live in SF!

    My family, while not from Kentucky, was from Tennessee and from the hills. Love your music, have Alison Moorer…well I could go on but I have enjoyed what you've written and placed within your blog.

    Apologies for the long comment; I'm a talker as well
    . Wings of Desire (the original) is breathtaking and beautifully painful. I have a pink Abalone shell..Oh well, guess I have a crush on your blog.

    Cheers.

  5. frida says:

    thanks for having a crush on my blog…so cool! Nikki

  6. seastararts says:

    what would your present self say to the rural kentucky family pictured here? would it change who you are and where you are going now? I'd give anything to go back and say a few things… but then I wouldn't be right here, right now.