Behind the Photo: Pajama Pants


My mom recently sorted out all the remnants of the days when you had to print the whole role of film to get the one picture worth keeping. Over the years the best photos were picked over for frames, albums, and other display pieces.

These are the left-overs. But not the throw-away left overs. The ones that tell the story of the real family behind the Christmas card photos.

This photo is from the summer after my freshmen year in college. My family took a road trip across the West Texas desert. Like most of our road trips, preparation was minimal and packing space was at a premium. My mom’s rule whether on vacation or moving into an RV for nine months: you get one bag.

It being the dead of summer in the West Texas desert, I did not pack jeans. Why would I? Besides, I had gained 10 pounds and none of my jeans were comfortable for sitting in the car for long stretches.

I was freshly home from college, and probably being an ass. So I don’t blame my family for limiting interaction with me to just essential information exchanges. Apparently “We’re going horseback riding” was one of the conversations that didn’t make the cut.

When we showed up for a horseback ride through the hills of Terlingua, the wrangler took one look at my 3″ inseam and just shook his head. The rest of my family, who all somehow knew to pack jeans that they would wear exactly once on the trip, stared at me with that “don’t ruin this for us” look.

So I put on the only long pants in my duffle bag, a pair of orange psychedelic flower pajama pants.