Sep 30, 2009 | Sisters, OR
Sep 30, 2009

My Mom asked me to find someone to take a picture of me that she could use for her Christmas card, but with nobody else around, I had to resort to some hand-held self-portraits up on the hillside. This evening I was looking through the pictures I took, and after quickly concluding that my Mom probably wouldn't want to use any of them, I suddenly had an overwhelming sensation of not recognizing the person in the photographs — and certainly not recognizing the person in the photographs as being myself. This was a very strange feeling. The person looked older, more gaunt, more tired, and more serious than I think of myself as being. Lately I have been noticing a gap between the way strangers react to me and the way I expect them to react to me. Passing through towns and restaurants like a ghost, I hear parents muttering to their children, "Honey, stay away from that man — don't bother him," when I still expect to hear, "Say hello to that nice young man" or, "What a nice boy." When I think of myself — my presence, my features, my demeanor, and how I come across to other people — I still think of the obsequious little perfectionist dressed by his mother, the preppy boarding school brother, the over-achieving water polo jock, the precocious programmer, the international interactive art kid of Fabrica, the summertime cousin, or even the lonely first-time New Yorker on a solitary day trip to Fire Island (the last time I took [dreadfully earnest] hand-held self-portraits). But what I saw in the photos today was something else, something new. I don't know where it came from, when it started, or who it was. I guess it must be me now. Maybe it had something to do with turning 30.