What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.Karl Lagerfeld
A dear old school friend (Thanks, Genevieve!) sent me a photograph via Messenger last night. It was a picture of me, taken at a friend’s eighteenth birthday party. I laughed so hard. It was the eighties, and I had such eighties hair. It was a men’s style cut, truth be told, with an undercut at sides and back and my natural curls all floppy on top . Most eighties women had big, big long hair, and permed or styled super curly, but I wanted short hair I didn’t have to do anything with. When I grew my short hair longer I ended up with a shameful bouffant Afro so it was short all the way for me. I didn’t grow my hair long until a few years later, when I was bedridden for a year.
This photo was taken in 1985, my first year of University, and I was already ill with Lyme disease, although I didn’t know it then. I knew something was wrong with me, but no-one would believe me. I looked normal, but my brain wasn’t working properly, I had night sweats and swollen glands and strange rashes and exhaustion. Back then, I told myself that it would pass, and I could get back to my dreams.
Of course, it never did. Thirty years later Lyme has wreaked havoc on my life.
When I look at this younger version of me, I still see me. I see the me I am today. That inner spirit is still there. That desire to effect change in the world. The need to write. The sensitivity and emotion. The love of philosophy and learning. A sense of never quite fitting in, no matter how loved I am, and of worrying what people would say if they knew the ‘real me’. The heightened intuition and the psychic experiences. They’re all there in this photo. Hidden, and in plain sight.
We carry all of those versions of ourselves within us, and I am glad for that. I am glad for the idealistic and philosophical girl I was, because she still guides me forward. My hair is streaked with silver now, and I have decades of lived experiences that add to the complexity and texture of the woman I have evolved into, but that girl with the wry smile still lives in my heart.
I know that the younger versions of you are still within you too, with all of their dreams and gifts. Don’t forget them. Remember to feed them on the music and passions and activities you loved then, that will still enrich and nurture you now.
Sending love, and a little epic eighties music your way, Nicole xx