Friday was not one of the most productive days in my life. Having just recently gloated about not suffering from allergies in nearly 3 years, I was not happy about how quickly the sound of my voice and my ability to breathe changed. There are several times where I tell Bets that I’m going to ask to come home early before I leave for work in the morning only to end up being there until late in the evening. Friday was not one of those days. While not excessively early, I returned home shortly after lunch.
I’d given up looking for it. So when I got into the building and noticed a beat up parcel post package on the floor in front of the mailbox, I was surprised to learn that it was for me. My first inclination was that it was information I’d been waiting for with regards to a project for work. Then I realized that the city of origin was Atlanta.
Pictures, when taken, allow you to relive whatever moment you wish whenever you want. Despite the modern convenience of online photo storage and digital cameras, there is still something relaxing about having a manual 35mm camera in your hands, looking for images that will remind you of a moment forever. Or at least as long as you want it to. I’ve recently been rediscovered by several friends because of their nostalgic yearnings, with photographs or a memory serving as a spark. One quick Google search and your memories, good or bad, can be relived and connections can be remade. MySpace has made this an even greater weekend mission.
Last July, I was in one of those nostalgic states. I’d just started the blog as a way to look at positive things going on in my life and elsewhere. I was also realizing that 30 was staring me dead in the face. I started looking through my photo boxes, looking particularly for images from my senior year of high school and of friends from my summer high school programs and freshman year of school. I was much more of a shutterbug then. After about three hours of tearing the loft apart, I began to think about where most of these images could be. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I’ve avoided contact with my ex-girlfriend for more than four years. That’s more than half the time we spent dating (or not dating depending on the season). It was not the most amicable end; but something told me that if the pictures were still there, she’d send them. This is despite the fact that for most of our relationship, I became less of that shutterbug. There were few images, at least in thoughts, of us. I’d always gotten grief about if from her that I did not want to be seen with her. Ironically, it took Bets getting me to develop rolls I’d forgotten about to realize that this belief of no images was not necessarily true. She’s always been asking if I would ever make contact again or try to re-establish a friendship. I’d always blow that off as impossible. She’s the one that said that I should try to get them back if they did exist.
I’d sent the initial e-mail asking if they still existed last July, hoping to have them returned if available for my 30th birthday in August. There were attempts to have my friend Sean get them and then bring them to me. Then there were attempts to have other friends get them (lol). There were trips back to the coast where I could have gotten them. I’d actually given up any hope of getting them sent and was about to consider a thought that had been impossible a year ago; trying to get them in person. The fact that I hadn’t set foot in Atlanta in four years made that an issue as well. Seeing this torn and tattered parcel bag sitting on the lobby floor brought several feelings. The most notable was comfort.
Flipping through the album brought back memories that at time felt as though they’d be lost forever. I saw friends and acquaintances past and present; some who I still talk to frequently, others that seem to have been taken away too early. There were others that seemed lost who’d recently returned to the fray. Images of a much skinnier writer than I am now, who’s definitely lived a life already, despite comments from people who discount life experiences as being older rather than living (I know of several who are much wiser than I am who've lived shorter lives; it's all relative). It provides windows to a world that is forever frozen in time on a piece of paper, allowed to come alive again at a moment’s notice. This window onto your life is one that you regret not having if you’ve decided that you’d rather just forge ahead, as sometimes it’s the past that allows you to enjoy the present. Thanks for the opportunity to enjoy those windows again and to enjoy the present even more.
N.B. Thanks to the Jane Jacobs online memorial blog for the link. This blog was set up to honor of the urban activist who passed away last Tuesday. Take a moment and visit the blog to learn more about her