This isn’t meant to be a sad, everyone cry about it, post. It’s just a strange time of year for me. I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but I don’t really ever celebrate the Fourth of July. Not that I don’t love America, I do. But for a girl who comes from a family of immigrants that really had NOTHING to do with the founding of this wonderful country, I’m going to go on the record and say that I don’t ever feel bad about not being all about lighting sparklers and eating hot dogs on a day that isn’t even a historically accurate holiday.
I did make an honest effort to “do” the Fourth this year, I went to the family friend’s block party with my parents. Socialized for a couple hours, passed out on the couch reading Prisoner of Azkaban, ate some of the most phenomenal pulled pork on the planet, took a picture with my family, and then realized I had gone way beyond what I expected of myself for today.
So the Fourth of July, for me, is the day my Nama went into a coma. Three days later, she left us for a better place. It’s been nine years. Every year it gets a little easier to understand why she had to go, yet selfishly I wish she could have stayed around just a little longer. There are too many days I wish I could call her and tell her about my hilarious dating flops, new shoes I can’t wait to wear out, maybe get advice about struggles with people I thought were friends. I tell myself she’s watching it all, and it helps.
The girl who was helping clean up the house asked me why I was sitting by myself reading while everyone else was enjoying the party. Can’t a girl just be an introvert once in a while? I feel like such a downer having to explain myself every year to people. I could just lie and shrug it off, but that feels like even more work. Not only that, it’s stupid. I’m missing someone I shouldn’t have had to miss yet. So I’m going to read and blog and be quiet in the corner with my book, and I’m completely okay with it.
The first day I was home from North Carolina, I shot a wedding. Not just any wedding: a Lebanese wedding. What a party — there wasn’t a single dull moment. Anyways. One of the guests at the wedding asked me how I knew the bride and groom. Well I’ve done some portraits of Rita Garabet… “OH. Wait. Don’t tell me. Are you Bonnie JEAN?” …Yes. “OH MY GOD. I cannot believe I’m talking to you. I LOVE the photos you did of Rita. I’m completely obsessed with your photography. I’m totally freaking out.” I felt a little like a celebrity and I mostly didn’t know how to respond.
I think we all know the power of a brand. Did you know that Chanel has an Instagram? Yeah. They have 1,530,581 followers, zero posts.
I learned how powerful my name is. What I love is that it wasn’t mine, first.
Being a namesake is an interesting thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to explain it, because not many people take on the fullness of their names like I have. On the one hand, you want to live up to what the name was. On the other, you want to make it your own. I knew that I had done that, in college, but I finally saw how much farther it could reach. Most people don’t just associate me with my first name, I’m quite a fan of it. So how about two of my favorite Nama stories?
Stubborn runs deep. I wish I was kidding. It’s a generational thing and it comes from both sides, but mostly especially from my Nama. You can see in the first photo that she was always quite done up. Well, her daily hair routine was the same: at night she would brush out her hair and put it in rollers that she would sleep in. the next morning she would take out the rollers and brush/tease the living daylights out of it until it turned into that beehive. I loved watching her get ready. Before starting the day, she would tell us she needed to “put her face on.” WELL. One day she expressed to my aunt that she was worried her hairline was receding, and she had no idea why. My aunt told her it was probably because she put her rollers in too tight… “Oh bull shit MaryAnn you don’t know what you’re talking about.” My Nama went to the doctor that same week to demand medication for hair growth. Apparently after telling him about her routine, he said, “sounds like you’re putting in your rollers too tight” and went on to explain that hair wouldn’t only grow on her head if she wanted the medication she had in mind. It was never an issue again.
Before even moving to North Carolina, I was straight hooked on sweet tea. Wanna know why? Nama. That woman put sugar on and in literally everything she could get away with. She used to keep a giant knife in the trunk of her car in the summer for when watermelon was in season; she’d buy a watermelon and cut it open in the trunk of her car, if it wasn’t sweet enough she would take it back into the store and exchange it until she found one that tasted like she was biting into sugar. Her favorite way to prepare pineapple was cutting it up, sprinkling it with some sugar, broiling it, and then sprinkling more sugar on it. How this woman didn’t have diabetes is a complete mystery to me.
As much as I wish I had more memories of her, I’m thankful for the ones I have.