A couple months after we started courting each other my fellow asked if he could have a few pictures of me to send to his grandmother, who had been asking about me. So I gathered up a collection of the most recent photos of me and gave them to him to look through to choose his favorites.
Later he showed me what he'd chosen to make sure he had my approval before he sent them off. He did... but I was a little bit surprised to see which ones he liked the best, and why. All my dressed-up photos of perfect hair and fancy dresses, the ones I thought I looked particularly pretty in, had been set aside.
He'd chosen one of me sledding with my youngest brother Paddy. I was dressed up in bulky coat and snow pants, with all my hair tucked up in a hat... no makeup, no earrings, nothing in the least elegant.
He'd chosen one of me with my violin in the birch woods of my grandmother's Alaskan home. I looked tired, and my outfit was extremely casual... but at least I was in a skirt.
The last photo was the most recent one. A mutual friend had taken it while we were spending a Sunday at a tutor's home. It was the worst I'd ever looked on a Sunday, I think. My hair hadn't been washed recently enough, so I had it in two braids on either side of my head. It had been a little chilly out, so I put on a slightly baggy sweater after Mass. And I was making the goofiest face at the camera... intentionally, but I'd never expected the photo to be on the way to my man's grandmother.
I couldn't help but ask him why those particular photos. I shouldn't have been just as surprised at his answers as I was at his choice, because I've known what kind of man he is for awhile, but I was.
The first picture was because it showed how I loved my family and my little brother, and because it was "very me" to be out having a good time with them. The second was because it showed my love for music and my love for nature. And the third was because it was the playful and humorous side of me on camera.
He chose the pictures that showed some of the things he loved about me best, and none of those things were my perfectly coiffed hair, well-done makeup, fancy clothes and earrings, or elegant poses. He loved the things that were more essentially me: my smile, my personality, and my character.
I still try to look pretty for him, but I know that on the days I'm a little bit tired and a little bit frumpy he loves me just as much. To him I'm always beautiful.