When I decided to update my website (which desperately needed a facelift), I realized I should include a blog; a place in which I can write for myself as well as others, but “on assignment” to no one but me. I wanted this space as a showcase for my photos, real-time writing and thoughts. I love to travel and to document those journeys, and I hope you will join me . . .
My photo of “Abuela” (Grandmother) has always been one of my favorites. She could be 90, or she could just as easily be 60. When your life is one of poverty, you age faster than others, and your face reflects that aging.
In person, Abuela’s eyes sparkled and shone, even as she stretched out her gnarled hand for change from passersby. She had chosen her perch well. Although the marble steps of a church in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, were no doubt hard and maybe cold, she was easily seen by many tourists and townspeople, alike.
The shock of white hair against her blue shawl and tanned skin caught my eye, and I approached, camera in hand. When she saw it, “Abuela” shrank back, pulling her shawl up over her face. Through my limited Spanish and sign language, I asked her if I could take her picture, just because I thought she was beautiful.
Giggling, she demanded, “Veinte pesos.” I don’t recall the exchange rate then—late 2008—but I do know I was willing to give it to her. However, digging in my pockets, I could find only seven pesos.
“Siete?” I asked. Would seven be okay, even though she wanted 20?
Nodding, she put out her palm, into which I placed the coins. Her grin revealed missing teeth. The deep lines around her eyes, mouth and across her forehead crinkled even more, as she tried to allow me to take her picture. It was obvious she was uncomfortable in front of the camera, so I moved quickly.
Ten years later, her black-and-white image holds a place of honor in my home’s entryway, a constant reminder to embrace every day; to acknowledge the lines and wrinkles as the roadmaps of my life; and to keep my eyes sparkling, no matter what.