11.26.2010

Memory Fridays: Looking Forward to Look Back.

On Thanksgiving, I stole my mom's camera and uploaded the photos she's had on there since 2007 to a brand spanking new Flickr account. My mom has been photographing family events for over three years and has NEVER UPLOADED THEM TO THE COMPUTER. Holy scary, right? The memories captured on that 2.0 GB memory card ranged from the last visits with my Nana before she died to my brother's 20th birthday, to the trip my mom and sister took to Paris to visit me during my Master's program.

As Katie and I looked through the Paris ones last night, we talked about how we looked. 

"That was my skinny year," I said. 
"Why were you so skinny?" 
"Never ate, just walked around Paris. Why were you so tan?"
"Lived in Africa."

Pretty much sums up our 2006-07 years abroad right there.

With a critical eye, I could tell just by looking at a picture what period of my life a photo was taken. My hair was very long when I lived in Greenpoint; I wore watches when I lived in France; I've had decent haircuts for all of 2010. I see those details and they mean something to me;they are vital details to the story of my life at the time. 

  • When I lived in Greenpoint, I didn't have money for haircuts because I was (finally!) living alone.
  • When I lived in Paris, I had not yet encountered the stress of New York public transportation. It's only since I moved back a few years ago that I stopped wearing watches, because, who cares? The subway comes when the subway comes.
  • I've had my hair cut every 6-8 weeks in a nice salon all year this year because I'm finally earning enough to do so.
This Thanksgiving was the first time that Chris and I saw my family since we got engaged and there was a good amount of wedding talk and champagne drinking and browsing my parents' wedding album. Seeing photos of my parents with their friends and family has a familiar affect on me, like paging through old photo albums of my grandparents or uncles when they were growing up. I don't see the details; I'm too far removed. I don't see that some photos represent their "skinny year" or some photos put their favorite shirt on display, the one they saved up for and bought at a fancy boutique. When I look at old photos of my family, I see youth.

And so in a way, that is really comforting to me. I imagine my grandchildren looking through my things one day, many years from now, when I'm old. 

"Look here she is when she was in France," they'll say. Or "look! Here's her first apartment with Grandpa." They will not notice my skinny years or my haircuts. The only thing they'll think will be: "Look how young she is here." 

And it will be true. And all of the self-critical moments one has in her life will melt away, invisible to the future generations. Because the inaccessibility of knowing a grandmother when she was young can only result in romanticism. And for that, I am eternally grateful. To my grandchildren, I will have always been young and pretty. And knowing that? It makes me feel young and pretty myself, at this moment, today. Even on the days I stuff myself with pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone out there reading. I am thankful for my family and my friends and the people who read my blog. Also, for the way that imagining memories in the future can help you live your life more fully today. 

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