My earliest memories are set in Westwood, Massachusetts, where my family lived until I was seven years old. I was passing through Westwood a few days ago and pulled into the parking lot of Town Hall to take a look at the Scout House. It looks exactly the way it did before I started school, when my mother used to bring me to meetings of the town’s Girl Scout leaders. I loved this little building. Town Hall is a large and impressive building, and it seemed something like a castle to me. The Scout House is directly behind it, down what seemed like a secret path which made it seem like a something out of a fairy tale, like a cottage in the woods where the young Prince or Princess is being hidden from danger.
I was the only child tagging along to these meetings, and I knew it was important that I entertain myself quietly and not disturb the meeting. I would sit on the window seat and look at my books or draw. I felt proud of myself. I enjoyed the praise of my mother and the other women for being so quiet and good. I also like hearing my mother tell my father and others how well-behaved I was and that she could take me anywhere. The first time I went to the Scout House, I behaved well because I wanted to please my mother, but I loved the praise. I was showing off by sitting quietly during these meetings. I wasn’t trying to be good, I was trying to be the BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD.
I liked being the center of attention. I still do.
I have always liked revisiting places that were significant to me at different times of my life, but I find I get more out of it when I am taking pictures. Maybe it’s just because it makes me get out of the car, walk around, focus my attention, look at different angles, and spend enough time to let the memories develop, like watching the image slowly appear and become clear on a Polaroid print.