I love September's theme at Self Portrait Challenge; "With Someone." One's "someone" is always a reflection, a true self portrait.
In that case, here's one of my favorite self portraits ever.
They started school today: Mina's first day of second grade. Maya's first day of middle school. We took Mina first to her school. I love the energy of elementary school. I love small kids with huge backpacks all scurrying around, saying the funniest shit. Like Mina, she said, "Boy, there's a lot of little people here." Her teacher has a warm, gushy, old pot-head energy to her. I loved her instantly. The classroom is packed with all kinds of stuff: tons of books shoved into shelves, sayings and laminated things covering the walls completely, tiny computers crammed together, yarn and markers and construction paper barely tucked away, and mobiles dangling from the ceiling . All the stuff is dying to be unleashed, the room is dying to be a big huge mess. It's the greatest kind of learning environment as far as I'm concerned. Mina sat down front row center next to a tall kid named David and she was ready to go, man. Maya and I both looked at her longingly. We got a quick wave, one little blown kiss and we knew that would be it. We knew we had to go on to middle school.
Maya and I talked the whole walk to her school. Pep talk, pep talk, advice. I just rambled as much as I could and Maya sopped it all up with a biscuit. We went over everything again: we strategized walking to school, how to be a safe pedestrian, how to survive popular girl clicks, how to pull off the whole girls' locker room fiasco, how to possibly meet new friends -- I was wingin it, man. Before we entered the school, I said, "Be prepared to see anything at this point." And pretty quickly, we saw a girl wearing transparent lace capri tights with a tshirt-sized "dress". She was also sporting a long, hip necklace that I myself own. UG. I saw another kid with the same cell phone I own and a few girls with way better shoes than I have. And a better hair stylist. And manicurist. And handbag. Maya's mouth had dropped open at one point. "Close your mouth, girl. Pull your shoulders back," I whispered out the side of my mouth. We had come early to practice getting to her classes and navigate the schoolgrounds. Maya tried to say hi to a couple kids with no luck whatsoever. She was starting to sweat under the weight of her backpack and her look became more and more forlorn. My stomach cramped. I felt like I was waving her around like tasty chum in a shark tank. I didn't want to leave her there, alone. I said, "There are a lot of kids that feel the same as you today. You're going to do great once you feel more familiar." I suggested we practice going to her classes again which we did. I pointed out a couple of other girls that had the same bewildered look on their face. We met a few of her teachers and they seemed really cool. We met Lulu, the cafeteria lady who was so southern classic. When Maya showed Lulu some manners, Lulu said, "Oh nice to meet you too, baa-bee!" I said, "Maya, always be cool with the cafeteria lady."
It was time to let her go. I knew I had to. She would do great. It really seemed scarier this time around, for me, than when I was twelve and released to the wolves of middle school. I almost threw up when I turned to let her fend for herself.