I was in a photography class in college, and we all had to go outside and practice on each other.
It was a black and white assignment, but color would have been wasted on a photo of me in college. My skin was pale white and my hair was nearly black and I almost always wore black clothes. This was actually a dark purple sweater, one of the few colors I felt comfortable in.
I bought the rosaries and the black link chain from a big flea market in Roanoke, and the little gold lock I stole from my parents; it went with a suitcase. I sometimes wore the little key on a hoop earring. Sometimes I would wear the black chain as a bracelet, wrapped half a dozen times around my wrist.
I remember haggling with the woman who sold me the piece of chain. That's what you were supposed to do in flea markets, and since I spent so much time there, I learned how, even though it made me uncomfortable to go back and forth with people. But I didn't have much money to spend. She was selling in the parking lot where people could set up tables for free, like a yard sale. People had to pay to get an actual booth inside the building. We were haggling over a few cents, she wasn't even asking a dollar for the chain, and I remember looking at her holding it and seeing that she'd had some kind of cut across the bottom of her hand under her thumb. It looked strange, like the sides of the cut hadn't healed together, and she had sharp looking scars. I realized I was a perfectly healthy college student with insurance and parents to take care of me, and she hadn't been able to get adequate medical care to heal herself. I shut up and gave her the original price for the chain.
I can't see any in this photo, but I usually had on a lot of bracelets, too, including black leather wristbands. I had a few strips of antique black lace that I'd sewed snaps on and wore around my wrist. I clearly remember getting a huge kick out of coming home and taking off pounds of jewelry, dumping it in a big pile on my dresser. Those metal link chains are heavy.
I'm almost five feet one inch tall, and I'm sure I weighed less than 110 pounds here. I thought I was embarrassingly overweight. I never wore shirts tucked in because I thought it emphasized my fat stomach. I remember hating this picture because I thought the fabric stretching across my thighs looked awful.
I wish I had more pictures of myself back then.
That fake leather jacket had triangle-shaped panels on the front that eventually got covered with buttons: Adam and the Ants, Prince, the Dead Kennedys, the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Fear, an anarchy symbol, Punk's Not Dead.
Something about the way I felt back then is similar to what I'm feeling now. Creative but fearful, sensitive and sad, excited but hopeless, I'm still trying to figure out what it is exactly. Or what I'm supposed to do.