This is an open diary of a work in progress.

Last year I returned to rural Massachusetts after living in Australia for twenty years. Back to my family of origin, the landscapes and seasons of my childhood, now with two children of my own. My godmother came to visit me and brought a box of dresses that she had saved for me – dresses that I had worn as a kid, and my cousins before me and my mom and her sisters before that. I started photographing them. I wore some, ill-fitting and unzipped. My kids wore some.

In some moments I want to get rid of these ancestral hand-me-downs – and all the  baggage they represent. In others, I press my hands into the box and feel memories well up. The ghost of my grandmother who bought them. They feel like old skins.

I want to bury one, send one down the Housatonic River, cut one up, make something new with it. I want to, but I don’t. But I might try it. I am afraid of what my mother will say. I wonder if I could photograph these actions. I wonder if I just stage these actions, if the photographs will mean less than if the rituals are permanent, real. It seems like too violent a cleansing. I wonder what the family will say. I wonder if I have the right to do this.

It’s probably totally futile to think I can save my children from a burdensome psychic inheritance by burying the evidence. I don’t really care. I still have a strong desire to try. Sam said that psychologically speaking, we would not want to reject the past and the maternal lineage, but integrate them. I wonder what that looks like, in a photograph.