Family Portrait

There’s not a whole lot that I recall from my childhood. I remember exciting moments as general experiences, like going to the dump with my dad. He would pack his blue pick-up truck full of trash and we’d zip to the transfer station in Shoreline. I wasn’t allowed to get out of the car once we got there, but I’d watch excitedly as he’d toss bags of our garbage into the deep abyss. I’d look on as huge yellow machines pushed down other people’s trash, compacting it for the loads to follow.

I have vague memories of holidays; of waking up at 5am on Christmas morning to a cascading pile of gifts. I can recall tearing them open as my parents struggled to stay awake, showing them the toys from “Santa” that they had only finished wrapping 20 minutes before. I fondly recall that our Santa Claus was lactose intolerant, just like my dad! But he loved cookies.

My sister and I spent hot summer days riding bicycles to the corner store for an Icee or popsicles or for a box of Alexander the Grape. I would spend nearly every day playing with my friends Amy and Debbie. We’d ride bicycles, swim in their snap pool or dig to China in their red sandbox. From time to time we’d visit Mr. Brown just a few houses away and he’d sit us at his bar and serve cups of 7-Up. Not long after my friend Elisabeth moved down the street, she pushed me down her stairs because she was upset that my mom called me home to dinner. Heather, the angry little girl up the block, threatened to shoot my parents when they said I couldn’t come out to play (Look at me, all hot shit and stuff that my unavailability led to domestic violence and threats of murder).

During the summer before third grade we moved to a new house. WITH A POOL. I was instantly hotter and more popular then ever. People assumed my parents were rich. So did I. Because only rich people had pools. This clouded my judgment until the year my mom told me I had to stop taking trumpet lessons because we couldn’t afford them. “BUT WE HAVE A POOL! WITH A DIVING BOARD!” It didn’t make one damn bit of difference, and slowly dissipated any hope I might have had of becoming Chris Botti.

Back in 1983, I was attending first grade. I have very few memories of grade school, vague or specific. This might possibly be due to the fact that I spent all those years under the tutelage of nuns and Catholics. It might also be because I had a hard time relating to most of my family. I quickly became the odd one out. My brother, ten years older than I, was out of the house before I really got to know him. My sister was much more girly and too caught up in her life and friends to want to hang out with me. My mother started to realize that I was different, a daddy’s girl through and through. I think that from a very early age she didn’t know quite what to do with me. My dad was my hero. He and I did a lot of fun things together. He’d give me money for the popsicle man, taught me how to shift gears in his pick-up truck and took me to every sports practice and game that I ever had.

While cleaning out my parents garage in preparation for their garage sale (or, as my brother-in-law likes to call it, the Crap Transfer) we came across some of my old things. There were report cards (“Linsey is smart, but very shy.”), half-filled notebooks (“There is no such thing as Jesus”), notes passed in sex-education class (“Are you a masterbaker?”) and this:


My mother insisted that I take it home. She is still horrified at the fact that she is thrown into the portrait as an afterthought. She is squished along the edge and has no face. In fact, the stick of her body is plunged up into her head. Even my brother gets more plate time than she does, and I thought he was mean.  It’s no surprise to anyone that my dad is the tallest family member, other than myself. Somehow our dog, or what we can only assume is a dog, was more important than any of them. In fact, if he felt like a snack, he could eat someone. I, of course, seem to have had a grandiose ego. I’m nearly as tall as the trees. Perhaps I envisioned a future as a giant. Apparently a drunken, tipsy giant. But I did manage get a couple of things right – like those huge boobs.

I can only hope that, years from now, when our children are drawing dinnerware for Janie and I, that I am given more plate time than our rotten cats.


  1. LizzieLou
    July 22, 2007

    There’s another way to view your plate (which I think is BRILLIANT!) besides that you are a super giant who marginalizes her mother, and that is to appreciate your early understanding and thorough comprehension of Perspective. Very advanced! You and DOG are standing in the foreground and the tree and everyone else are behind you.

    (That your sister is all in pink and that your dad is wearing pants are right in keeping with your tale of childhood as well.)

  2. August 24, 2008

    my nephew’s lady love is an art teacher. i’ve frequently had her “diagnose” my son’s drawings, just to make sure he’s not a budding serial killer or anything.

    she told me that the larger the person the kid draws, the more important the person to that child.

    could be crap, but i like her which makes me believe her.

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