There are so few pictures of me as a child, that I wonder if I ever did anything worth capturing at all. There is one of me pointing at the San Fernando Mission, as if I was saluting a ghost that I knew intimately. There’s another in which my brother is handing me a can of soda, after I complained of thirst. And I remember that day clearly because I actually spoke, which occurred only by force, or ventriloquy. Stranger still, the picture was taken during a parade that seemed to arise out of nowhere. As if the entire city found itself bored on a hot day, and created floats spontaneously to entertain itself.
Yet another picture has me crying as my brother’s face is red with shame, after someone shoved his head into a birthday cake. I wanted so much to shield my brother from the ridicule. Already he was embarrassed, because the band that secured a party hat to his head had snapped.
In another picture, my father has me by the hair. I am wearing purple pants, and a shirt too small to cover a round belly. While I appear completely in that shot, my father’s head didn’t quite make it. He looks like a headless god, roughly disciplining his plump offspring.
There are a few more pictures of family outings. We are at the circus. We are in Mexico. We are well-dressed at a wedding, or celebratory event. All of them, without exception, have one thing in common: My eyes are always staring off into another world.