These are not old family pictures — not my family pictures, anyway. They were the dummy pictures in a double picture frame that I bought recently. I find myself fascinated by these two pictures, because unlike most of the photos you see in new wallets and picture frames, these look real. They look like snapshots, not studio portraits, and they could be from my family album (and probably yours.) They have a soft, faded quality, not much detail to suggest a particular time or place, and the subjects of both pictures are looking down so you can’t really see their faces, all of which makes it easier to see whoever you want to see in them.
I took these pictures out of the frame because I found I was getting a little too attached to them, even though the frame is still just sitting in a box. I wanted them to look up so I could see their faces. I wanted them to be part of my family. It occurred to me that I could just leave these pictures in the frame, set it among my other old family pictures, and just pass the pictures off as anyone and get away with it. (The young woman on the right could definitely pass as my mother.) Everyone would believe me, including my family, and over time they would blend in with the other old family photos (the real ones) not only on the shelf but in everyone’s minds. But that’s just crazy. Now I want to throw these pictures away, but it feels wrong somehow. What if my recycling container falls over and my papers blow around, and someone sees these and thinks I am throwing away real old family photographs?
I look at the pictures again, and I wonder who these people are, Are they still alive? Do their own families have copies of these pictures. I wonder why I am wondering about these things.
[Later] The picture frame by Kathy Gustafson of J. Devlin Art Glass, and apparently the photographs are from her own family albums. (I bought my picture frame at Casa de Moda in Beverly.)