11 February 2011

Turning Sepia or Chiaroscuro

"Sophia" had an interesting response to my post "Giving Up What I Never Had."

On her blog, she describes "A Life Turned Sepia."  Her account of her relationship to her past resonates with me.  She explains it by talking about how she "could recall finding the Dr. Who series new and exciting" when she was a child, but how or why she was, or at what particularly, is "back somewhere in the mist."  On the other hand, she says when she saw The Prisoner during her adolescence, she was "relating to the allegory, to the style, to the place it attained in the culture around me and all the feelings associated with these."  So she has a clearer, or at least more accessible, memory of it because of the repertoire of memory and emotion that she'd developed by the time she saw it, and which she didn't have very early in her life.  Likewise, early relationships and other experiences are less accessible than more recent ones.  

And so I concur with her when she says "I don't have much motivation to distance myself from my male past."  The truth is, as she points out, we don't need motivation to do that:  It happens by the same sort of process that makes Dr. Who less accessible than The Prisoner in her memory.  A result of it is that,for her, "40 years of memories have turned sepia."

My experience dovetails with hers except on the last detail. My memory doesn't seem sepia so much as it's like one of those black-and-white photographs that seems almost chiaroscuro in its composition.  Photographs or stills of actors and actresses from the 30's and 40's--and sometimes the 50's--have that look.  The details are sharp and clear, but they are remote from me--both in those photos and in my recollections of long-ago experiences.  Actually, some of them weren't that long ago:  When you get to be my age, seven or eight years seems like little more than a blink.   

Just as my life experience is so different from those of the actors and actresses in those old films and photos, so does the way I experience things differ from how I experienced them before my transition.  It's really as if a different person experienced those things.  And so, I have no desire to distance myself from that past because it's becoming distant from me in any case.   So much of it was no more mine than the lives of those actors and actresses in those old studio shots.