So there, IT Guy.
But seriously, my only excuse is that I spent the afternoon sorting pictures; a job I’ve been putting off for close on ten years now. Here’s a picture of me looking absolutely thrilled at my first birthday:
Sorting photographs sounds like a relatively easy job (toss the extras you don’t need, organize the ones you like), but of course it isn’t. There are so many stories attached to even the small details in these pictures. For example, that panda bear is still somewhere in this house, with a belly-full of dimes. My siblings and I added dimes to the porcelain bank at every birthday, one for every year of life. Mom would bake the cake-shape of our choice (as long as it was a circle or heart), we’d choose the frosting color, and every dime that went into the slot on the back of panda’s head got counted out loud by everyone. Sometimes we’d try to shove in two at a time, just to trick the rest of the family, but Dad always caught on and corrected the count. When I was little I thought this ritual meant that Mom and Dad were going to be massively rich by time all three of us had made it to our eighteenth birthdays; mostly because that was such an unimaginably high number, but partly because the bear was so terrifically heavy.
However, not only did the tradition not make it through to the end goal (our years in Thailand broke the habit, either because the bear disappeared into storage or the simple fact that we no longer had easy access to dimes; I can’t remember which now), Mom and Dad would have only earned a whopping $51.30, if my math is correct. “A really nice dinner out” they told us once, which was downgraded to a “a nice dinner out” and later “a dinner out” as inflation took its toll. That, and “belly-full of dimes” is hyperbole at this point. For some reason Dad needed the coins, which he replaced with the right amount of bills. After that, it was a little disappointing when the dimes would hit folded paper instead of fellow-coins on the way in. There’s nothing like the sound of coin-on-coin chinking against each other, like Scrooge McDuck going for a swim in his vault.
So there’s a very tiny piece of my life; and that from one picture. I’m keeping a number of unprofessionally captured shots of people with their eyes half-closed and their mouths wide open just because they remind me of the stories I had no idea were still in my head. What I should do — once I’ve finished sorting the photographs of yore — is actually write down a memory guide and put it with the album. Once I’m gone, no one will appreciate the pictures without it. They may not anyways (and such is the way of things), but I’d like to give my children and grandchildren a laugh someday, if I can.
But here’s the really depressing thing about this afternoon: I only managed to get through 1998. I haven’t even touched the Thailand years yet, let alone high school. Fortunately, I stopped taking pictures in college, so while there will be a massive gap in my visual history, I’m not going to be particularly sorry once I make it to graduation and get to stop.
But of course that’s a lie too. I may not have taken many pictures, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel morally obligated to scour Facebook and my family’s computer files to try and fill in the photographic mural of my life. Heaven knows why. In another generation no one will have even heard of photo albums any more.
Still. Maybe that’s kind of the point.