A photo of me taken when I was 20 is in the news again—this time The New York Times:
Nicola Griffith, pictured above right, is now a successful novelist, married and living in Seattle. “Seeing that photo again, taken nearly 35 years ago, gave me a vertiginous moment, like leaning over the edge of what-could-have-been,” wrote Griffith, who described her subculture in those days as “party-through-the-revolution lesbian feminist underclass.”
In the spring of 1981, when I was 20, I went down to London with my partner, Carol (we lived together for ten years before I moved to the US to be with Kelley), for the first UK Lesbian Conference. It was academic and political. Carol and I were there, though, to party. And at the social we got seriously wasted on magic mushrooms. If I recall correctly (and that’s a big if—in those days I took a lot) Carol began to freak out a bit—those of you who are familiar with the psilocybin cycle know that this can happen; it generally doesn’t last long—and I led her to a dark wall and put my arm around her to shelter her from the worst of the noise and light until she found her equilibrium. Just as she was breathing and calming down (but was not quite out of the woods) a woman with a camera appeared and asked if she could take our picture. I was a bit fretful behind my euphoria—mushrooms are like that—worried about Carol, feeling super-protective, and was about to say no when Carol beamed and said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”
At which point the photographer, Anita, took the picture…
One thing I’m struck by this time is those glasses. I’m now so used to having bionic eyes I can barely remember what it was like to be so myopic. Having said that, this week I finally threw out the last of my contact lens solution which I’d squirrelled away against the apocalypse.
Oddly, I both remember the moment very well and feel as though it was another lifetime. If I didn’t already know it was me would I recognise myself? I don’t know.
What do you think. Would you know it was me?