The Space Between
May 5, 2008
The differences between us in your later years were easily distinguished: you had tinted hair, silver or frosted, then blond hair, I had brown. You were short, I was tall. You were solidly stout, I was slim. You drove slowly, I loved speed. For many years, the similarities were harder to find.
Flipping through photos, black and whites from your childhood, or portraits of us together wearing identical outfits and smiling at one another, caused a chain reaction; one of yearning for that time and wanting something that was no longer an option.
You're a woman in her 20s, much younger than I am today. You're working at your father's drugstore behind the counter as a cashier. Turning to look at the photographer, you grin as though you have a secret. Underneath the photo, barely visible, is a date, November 1942, six years before I was born.
I discover something in your smile that surprises me-your two top incisors have a space in the middle, just like the gap between my teeth before I had braces. I think back to my vision of you as a mother with your perfectly straight teeth, no overbite, crookedness, or spaces and wonder why we never had a mother-daughter talk about teenage embarrassments, heart-to-heart talks about my imperfections, especially ones you could identify with. Did you also have dark hairs on your upper lip and on your breasts? I might have felt better about myself had I known you understood what I was going through.