Now You See Me, Now You Don’t – Disappearing in Homemaking Space
This is not a Pee-wee’s Playhouse episode, but unfortunately my life.
Not so long ago, when I was digging through my snapshot archives in search for a decent picture to put on my social media profile (and of course my Time Magazine cover), I realized a very worrying fact (besides the reality that somehow I’m always pictured holding a drink in my hand). There was no photograph, except the recent sun-glasses-on-the-beach one, that would display me, and me alone, without the whole background of a family life.
I found many pictures with me and the kids, me and the dogs, me and the cats, me and my husband, me and my mom.
But there was not a single shot that would represent my persona without being accompanied by the entire household (how weird is that?).
It’s as though I vanished from the surface of the planet for a whole ten years (my latest solitary portraits date from 2005, when I was young, hot and reckless, and didn’t give a damn), and thus left my ego stranded with nothing in between. It is actually a slightly frightening discovery, since a decade would be enough time to fly to Saturn and back, undergo an identity change, and start a completely new life as a burlesque dancer in Orange County nonetheless. In fact, what worries me the most is that in that long period of time I sort of ceased to exist, without anybody noticing or giving a s*it.
I don’t know when it actually happened, that I disappeared. Was it when I got swallowed by the sheer domestic bliss, when I chose to stay at home instead of commute; or was it when I decided to ditch the prestigious title and switched happily to washing dishes? Or maybe, when I settled for less then it would be expected from me; the go-getter, the ambitious top dog settling for being a doormat, a weakling? Or was it when I declined to participate in the Rat race to become, in a very unorthodox sense, a full-time homemaker? Or when I ignored the laboriously fought-for Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts and made a conscious decision to go against the feminist mainstream?
Whatever the circumstances that drove me to that conclusion, in the aftermath, they had a huge impact on my existence. They brought me to a place where I had to contemplate the very nature of my presence (or the lack thereof), not only in pictures but also in reality.
At the end of the day, they created a huge gap beyond recall (memory-wise, but also in terms of personal growth), that couldn’t be filled with Champagne bubbles, moving countries or even fixed with French superglue. They formed, from a personal angle, a symbolic void, consistent with the fact that you can’t continue living your life by serving others, no matter what.
Through the lack of elbowroom in the Polaroid department but also in the real world, I learned that it’s not wise to neglect your needs for the sake of others; that ultimately what’s left is a feeling of your own constraint, which cannot be overturned by sweeping dirt under a rug, and pretending it’s all a false tale.
I’m happy nevertheless that I woke up more or less in time, to rediscover my innate cravings, and what it means to be me (and me alone).
Not that I want to go back, where I stopped being ten years ago, but I long to be that girl again, who aspired to conquer the world and take it by storm.