My work table looks like a bomb exploded on top of it. No bomb though. Just old photos scattered all over the work space. I’m in the middle of organizing a bazillion of them; a Covid-era project.They’re being put in albums in chronological order, starting with the tiny 2×2’s of me in my new mother’s arms, both of us in a comfy little upholstered rocker. I look oblivious but ensconced. Content.
That’s just the beginning. The first child gets a lot of photographic attention, so my next two and a half years are well-documented in black and white. My first steps, first birthday, first Christmas, first kiss from an overly affectionate little toddler boy (I don’t look thrilled), aunts, uncles, grandparents. Even a neighbor’s big boxer dog got into a couple pictures with me.
Then my sister came along and I was no longer the star of the show. I didn’t like it much but I went along. Now there were two smiling faces aimed at the camera. We were cute kids, I have to admit. Two wholesome-looking, chubby-cheeked cherubs.
When I was five we left Florida and the camera went with us as we traveled out west for my dad’s new Air Force Career. Photos in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, California, Nevada and then back to Florida when I was eight. That camera covered a lot of ground.
Fast forward a dozen years and a couple of graduations later and there’s a photo of a bride and groom smiling at each other, ready to take on the world, blissfully unaware of just what that would entail.
A few moves later and I’m the one in the rocker cradling a newborn in my arms. Then another newborn and another and another. The photos just keep on coming. Documenting four children, a divorceé, a new career, a new house, a new boyfriend, grandkids, trips, a retirement party. They kept on coming until I went digital and was no longer sending spools of film to Kodak. The end of an era.
And now here I am at 72, seeing my whole life strewn before my eyes. Just the good parts of course. That’s as it should be in photos. Seeing all the happy faces has had an unexpected effect on me. It’s reminded me that although my life hasn’t ended up the way I’d planned, and has left me with some regrettable memories, it’s been pretty damn good, too, overall. The photos have brought my perspective into balance.