Yesterday’s post reminded me of something I wrote five years ago. I plastered it onto the front page of my photo album, which I searched the house high and low to find. I just found it a minute ago, next to all my other pictures, where it would logically be. I didn’t even think to look there…
My mom didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Well, that’s not true. When us kids were still little and cute, there are a ton of pictures of us: chubby cheeks, striped sweatsuits, and scenes of us playing. But as all kids do, we hit the awkward stage: buckteeth, straight bangs, and slouch socks. Maybe that was just the eighties, though. But the pictures we have remind me of memories I would have otherwise forgotten.
I just wish there were more pictures in between my mom using a camera and me getting my own. I tried and tried to remember a picture that was never caught on film. I remember parts of the picture: what I was wearing. I was wearing one of those skirts with the three layers of ruffles. I think I was at a reception after a funeral. A grandparent’s funeral, but I’m not sure which grandparent. I must have been seven, but I only know that from my mom’s memory, not from my own. I remember these gaudy velvet chairs lined around the perimeter of a large room, and a temporary wall that my chair was against. We were in a restaurant, or maybe a hotel. There was a buffet, and there was punch.
But past that, I can’t remember. I want to remember what I felt. I want to remember who I was sitting next to. I want to remember everyone who was there, and where we went next, and the conversations people had, and how we all interacted. But all I can remember is those velvet chairs, and my three-layer skirt, and that temporary wall.
Even though it never was one, it reminds me of something I would see in a picture. Only this picture is blurry; all you can see is a girl, about seven, swinging her feet off of a velvet chair, which sets in front of a temporary wall. There are faces on either side of her, but no one can tell whose faces they are. There are many details that have been distorted into a hazy blur.
You don’t know which ordinary day is going to turn into an important memory. You don’t know when it is the last time you’ll see someone. You don’t know when a memory will escape you. That’s why we take pictures. ~July 2005