WHO AM I? two versions / by Pam Sutherland

I was asked by a student 8 years ago to answer this question for her Senior Project. Another student is resurrecting the same question for her Senior Speech this year, comparing the responses, and the subsequent evolution of each of the participants. Here is what I said, then and now.

I am Pamela Anderson, the first one, the unfamous one,
the one from Virginia.
A woman-girl who still feels 26,
who likes to make things
and talk and write and dress up and eat things
made out of tomatoes, garlic and starch.
The one who cries too much while
smiling, a daddy’s girl, a friend, an art teacher, a mentor
to the children she couldn’t have. The one
with the evil left breast who wishes all bad things would go away now,
but knows that’s life no matter
who you are or
where you’re from.
When my hair was longer I used to think I was an afghan hound.

(2016) I am a woman in the middle of my life. Literally. I am physically in the middle for sure. I am aging. My thumbs hurt. I have a pain running down my right leg that is ever present when I brush my teeth or browse Target. I can’t run like I used to. But that’s the worst of it. I actually like my crow’s feet now, my lopsided smile. My definition of beauty has expanded: because I like my life now more than ever, the underneath of me matters a lot more to me than my necessarily flawed outside. I’m happily married. I’m an accidental and grateful mom. I’m a devoted art teacher. And underneath it all I am an artist. I love making things: collages, classes, dinners, friendships, stories, outfits, love. Life is a giant act of arrangement and I am enjoying balancing the good with the bad.