Monday, August 5, 2013

The (Middle) Namesake

Most people know something about the person after whom they were named -- I do -- but middle names are often a more curious business. Some have just 'been in the family,' or represent a shout-out to a favorite aunt or uncle. In my case,  I was named after my father's childhood best friend, Alan Laxdal. I knew him as a balding, cherubic, dry-witted man, a man who taught in the Snohomish school system for many years, and whose audiophile stereo system was a thing of wonder. His mother was from Iceland -- the Laxdals even have their own saga -- but I knew her only as the quirky old lady who once lived next door to my grandmother. This photo, found among my father's papers after his death, reveals another Alan Laxdal -- a young boy who made this dramatic self-portrait by flashlight, and developed it in his own photo lab.  There is something quite powerful in his gaze -- he almost seems to look through you -- the intensity is visceral. I'm certainly proud to carry his name.

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