Senior Road

The solicitations started arriving in the mailbox months ago promising “Natural looking portraits” that will “capture your senior’s special moment” with “as many outfit changes as she wants.” The directmail pieces were beautiful, but, the high school senior in our house is a “he” who could care less about outfit changes.
My son casually trotted out the door this weekend to have his senior portrait taken. As a guy this was going to be a decidedly lowkey affair. Unlike his female friends he did not view this event as a “photo shoot.” His senior portrait would not become a photo medley of his real or wishedfor persona – serious senior, sporty senior, silly senior. It would not be a piece of artistic self-expression. It was a quick look in the window reflection as he left. I uttered in vain, “Don’t you even want to look in a real mirror?” “What for?” he replied. I dropped it.
I couldn’t help but note the contrast to his gal pal’s portrait sessions that highlighted model-worthy make-up and outfit changes fitting for Fashion Week. There would be no multiple-personality on display for perpetuity from my son, just a guy wearing the shirt that happened to be at the top of the pile in his closet.
While he has no sense of the magnitude of the moment, I sure did. “Do you realize that this picture will hang on my wall and be plastered on your lapel for every reunion the rest of your life?” 
The sense of profoundness was solely mine. Only I could see the sands of the time glass running through. Lines from the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, kept popping up in my head. ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…”
I have always thought of high school as the end of the narrative from the parent’s point of view and the beginning of the young person’s editorial control. Senior year is the demarcation line; the time when a young person begins to truly write his or her own story. Thus, the senior portrait becomes a snapshot that illustrates the “who that I am” and the “who that I will become.”
My son did not appreciate the moment; it was just something else he had to get done this weekend. I however, have the benefit of hard-earned hindsight, and think that some day he will look back on his young self peering into the camera and ponder the moment suspended in time. As Robert frost wrote, “Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

For now, I give myself permission to be sentimental and excited as I ponder my son’s passage toward the future. I can’t wait to see his story unfold.

Carol Lewis Gullstad, September 17, 2012


  1. Debbie Hill says:

    Having been through three of these “snap shots in time” I feel it safe to say that we should all take a lesson from this young man. It seems we tend to take everything too seriously when it comes to launching our children into their futures. Senior pictures are another thing that I look back on fondly as full of innocence–puka shells and all.


  1. […] Senior Road: Permission to Appreciate Milestones […]

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