from So Much a Part of You by Polly Dugan


“You know when something is such a big part of you? Without it you can wonder who you are a little.” p 53

This is the week from Hell or in theater lingo: Hell Week. Saturday is the due date for T’s early action college application. And—what a coincidence—his application for Circus Smirkus is due the same day. On top of everything else, he’s also staying late each night at school getting ready for the play that debuts next Thursday. And M and I are scurrying to get snacks to the kids in the play, write his circus reference and try to ditch our dial-up in favor of free WiFi so that we can answer nosy financial questions on the CSS profile in the hope of securing financial aid to help pay for college. Not to mention getting ready for Halloween, with costumes and pumpkins and candy for all.

The application has become a family affair. “All for one and one for all” is our new motto. T has had to answer questions about us on the Common App. He needed to know when we graduated and with what degrees. More specifically he needed to know what to put down for M’s job. When I asked what he put for me he said “Easy, children’s librarian.” Then M piped in to say he always lists me as Librarian/Photographer on our tax returns. For a moment my heart swelled and then I said I couldn’t very well be a photographer if I didn’t have a camera. M said he begged to differ and that the 35,000 photos on our computer would prove otherwise.

It has been rainy and grey and raw the weather has been a mirror to my fears and anxieties. On top of everything else, my camera has been in the shop for three weeks now. I feel more than a little lost without it. As I drive to work I see a certain landscape I’d like to capture or my dog has burrowed down in the blankets, looking adorable and silently begging me take take his picture. And soon it will be Halloween. T will debut his Dr. Who scarf and I’ll be without a way to document it.

Maybe that’s what I worry about most, missing images; leaving me with no proof that they happened except for my memories, which are easily muddled.

I think about Matisse and the way he discovered a new way to express his creativity when he could no longer paint. I think about my dear Trina Schart Hyman who had begun to use a different technique in her artwork and illustrations in the months before she died. When pushed a true artist will continue to create, the bird has to be released from that cage. This week I talked with a friend who was feeling giddy because she’d just signed on as an audiobook reader and I saw the slideshow of a friend who developed a passion for photography when she was on vacation in Norway. I could use a dose of giddiness or a call from my muse.

But in reality I’m really just waiting for the call from the repair shop. I need that camera. I need that click to ground me in the present, to provide me with those souvenirs of my ordinary life. Images I can put on the computer so that on a quiet morning I can run through the shots and remember those trees, that fog, those leaves, that boy, this life.

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