Meeting Up With My Real Self

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I had the chance to visit my grandmother’s house a few months ago. Since she passed away, I had few opportunities to enter it. 

Recently connecting back with the Chilean side of my family, I recalled some of my childhood memories with my grandma. I then realized that I was missing being connected with her on an emotional level. In one of my trips to the village, I visited her house where many things have remained unchanged. 

I was hoping to find a small crystal swan she had on a chest of drawers in her bedroom. She had a few more crystal knick-knacks that were mainly gifts found in powder detergent cardboard packs. As a child back then, I remember I was not allowed to touch them since they were very fragile. But I loved going to her bedroom to look at these delicate crystal figures and get lost in them. They were nicely displayed on top of intricate doilies that my grandmother made. 

Since the chest of drawers was not there anymore, I searched in a few more places in her bedroom. While looking for the crystals, I found a few envelopes full of photographs in a closet. I opened them and was surprised to find pictures of myself as a child that I have never seen before. The photos blew my mind! 

I am unable to say exactly what my age was in the pictures but based on the settings, I can say that they were taken by a professional photographer. I can only vaguely recall these moments. But what I see in these pictures deeply moves me. They are far from the “official” visual version of my childhood.

Now here I am staring at my real nature, me the rocket girl! In these photos, I was thrilled to be just me without worrying about the consequences or what others would think. I was unapologetic and fearless. I was happy to express myself without inhibitions.

I can easily tell that my parents were not present during the photoshoot. I was raised to be a good girl, and such behaviours that were captured in these photos would not have been tolerated by my parents. Maybe this was the reason why these pictures stayed hidden for so many years.

I am touched to discover this part of me and even more so to know that my grandmother kept these images of me all this time. I feel comforted knowing that she loved me just as I am. 

The Like A Rocket photo series is a tribute to my grandmother, Maria Musitelli. It combines the forgotten pictures with images of nature I took in Arles and in the Garden of Vincennes in Paris suburb, that metaphorically echoes with my wild inner nature.