I have always been one to take pictures. I have ALWAYS loved pictures. I love photographs in the professional way as well as candid shots taken by polaroids, DSLRs, instagrams, whatever. I love catching the moment for the purpose of preserving it. And….in a way, holding on to it. Never forgetting it….always remembering it. No, I can't freeze time, but I can certainly frame it, make it my screensaver or home screen and age myself while i search through photos or starve at it….remembering that time. In the past, I have been known to take 10,000 photos in one year. Yeah, probably capturing about 5000 moments, but either way, it's still a lot of photos. I make a photo book at the end of the year (with about 300 of those photos) to tell our story in a special way and that can be picked off the shelf at any time to reminisce…or whatever. But that's not to say that I don't ever go back to those dated folders on my hard drive or old printed photos, to search for a specific photo that I KNOW I had snapped. Like that one year I had a photo of Owen wearing the potato head glasses and thought it would be fun to include photos of each of the kids when they were toddlers wearing those silly things because I knew they all did it and I was SURE I had Captured.The.Moment.
That is just one example.
I have argued with my husband a time or two before about him always looking so far in the future and not enjoying the present while he rebuts I am always looking in the past at old photos and books and then being sad that the time went by so quickly. I think it's kind of Mars vs. Venus but I don't deny that I enjoy old memory books. And I do my best creating memory books and boxes for my kids for when they are older and sometimes will initiate a conversation at the dinner table of the memories we made in our first home and their favorite times from childhood.so.far. I know from my own experience and as a bystander that one's past is comprised of what their memory is of it. Whether their memory is accurate or not. If you have an idea in your head of how something happened in your past, unless it's photographed or journaled, there is not really any way to correct the memory if it's wrong, or prove that it is right. Just sit around at a family reunion sometime and listen to siblings or parents reminisce and almost always, there is a disagreement, if not argument, on what happened in an old story….who did it, who won, who got caught, who broke what, etc….
As much fun as I have with photos and momentos that help me remember fun moments, like ticket stubs, programs, receipts or whatever, I recently lost a very important momento (that's what I am calling it) to me and I am trying to help myself get over it. I'm trying to justify the difference between material things and memories…the tangible vs. the intangible. Since my most plentiful and present moemntos are photos, those are tangible, are they material? Because I don't want to be a material person. (I know I am but I strive not to be. Don't judge.) I spend precious time (read: HOURS) making things for my kids to remember their childhood when they get older and for me to reminisce and even spend money producing these things. These are the kinds of things I would grab if there were a fire or a natural disaster headed my way. (After grabbing my children of course) But not because they are things….because they remind me of moments. Of time. Of life. Of our history. They are what tells our story and proves our memories write or wrong. They document things that will be forgotten. Yes, forgotten. Because we can't possibly remember every little detail and with 10000 pictures per 365 days, there were a lot of details documented, right?
Memories. Details. Things so desperately held on to as our kids are growing up right before our very eyes. This is kind of a battle I am fighting within myself of how important these things are to me. Are they too important? I would rather spend time ON my kids than on looking through all those pictures OF my kids…right? Actually, I don't regret any of the time I have spent on my memory keeping. I'm sure not everyone is like me. But I don't. I'm so glad I have the finished products of the things I have stayed up late creating. The momento I lost, though, is not a photograph. However, it is present in MANY of my photographs. And though I knew I wouldn't always have this momento to come back to, I never ever wanted to see it go. Or see it gone. It tells a story all by itself. Just it's presence and just by looking at it and touching it, thousands of memories are flooded into my mind and the minds of my kids. I just hate that it's gone.
It's our swing set. Our old, warn with broken parts, but still lots of life….swingset. Our renters' kids used the swing set and they have taken it with them. (on our accord--not mine, my husbands). I didn't know this arrangement had been made so it was a heartbreaker when I laid my eyes upon an empty spot in our yard that once held a piece of our families history. Milestones were marked there. Battles were fought and won there. Treasures were built and buried there. Flights were landed there. Stories were made and told there. The rhythmic squeak of a swing being ridden….all in that spot. By three of our children. And a swing set has been what I have missed most for Owen since we moved.
But now that I got my sob story out and it is obvious what that old thing meant to me, I don't want it to be so important. I don't want to feel this way over something that is material. But I am just trying to tell the difference, in my heart, between that being a thing, or it being many happy memories that we will have forever. Yes, we could have still played on it on our once or twice-a-year visits back to this place, but we can also replace it for that matter. But there's the bar that Karly used to flip over and the swing that Emma and Karly would jump out of and the slide that Reese would slide down and the sand box that he hid his army men in…where Owen would have done the same thing...
But it's all just stuff. And I don't need to be so emotional about it. And I'm trying not to be. I'm just bummed. I didn't expect it to be gone when I rush Owen around the corner and told him to "Look at what you get to play on!" and then find nothing there. He hardly noticed as he ran off and played in the dirt. No big deal. He doesn't remember that thing. And I didn't expect him to.
That's why I took all those pictures.