That delight quickly turned to ambivalence. The more I looked at the pictures the more I resented the fact they were on public display and there had been no courtesy call to see if I minded. It’s hard to put into words just how wrong it feels to me and why.
On the one hand, they are just pictures of my youth, of the first days in the hospital after my daughter was born and of some of our shared moments together when she was little. So it should be no big deal, right? Well, not quite right. The pictures are more than just snapshots in time. They are moments of my life and each of those moments has a memory linked to it, filling up and spilling out beyond the cropped edges of the now virtual images. Those images evoke feelings, emotions even smells and tastes that surrounded my life when those pictures were taken. There is pain, loneliness and isolation mixed in with joy, excitement and reverence. But no one memory is held in isolation, each one is connected to yet another memory, more feelings, emotions, regrets, amazement and surprise.
For me, pictures have been very personal things, especially the ones from my youth and my daughter’s childhood. There was a lot of stuff going on my life 26 years ago and the person I was at the time was in the process of transforming and sloughing her way into the woman I am today. Metamorphosis is not easy for human beings. Those pictures evoke the memories of that time and place. Besides, I’m not the type of person to haul out my pictures and baby books for just anyone. I share them with my daughter and I’ve shared them with a few friends over deeper talks and in relation to other stories and the telling that happens about lives being lived in all their messy splendor.
The pictures of my youth are or were personal and private. They are something I go through with reverence when I feel nostalgic and want to reminisce or at critical moments during the year when I’m going through what I call my cleaning out and taking measure mood, usually on New Year’s Eve or on my birthday which is only a few days later. At these times, after a good dinner, I sit and have a glass of sparkling white wine and go through the visual record of my life. I let my mind, body and heart entwine themselves with the memories and I’ll cry a little, rant a little and laugh a little. I take a look at where I’ve been, where I am and where I want my feet to journey towards. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions so my mental amble down roads already taken and through the scenery of that history, of my history, is how I link my past to a future I have yet to travel to.
Technology has given us the ability to make so many things immediately available that we don’t step back enough to ask the important questions such as “just because I can do this should I?” “Who is touched by my actions and should I ask them first how they feel about it?”
My memories were tagged on Facebook last week and I feel like something undefinable yet precious all the same, was lost and that saddens me.