Monday, February 6, 2012

Get the Picture?

I was the kid who kept mementos from my "firsts"; stashed keepsakes in shoeboxes; and pressed shamrocks and wildflowers in pages of books. I saved the label from the bottle of musk oil from my first boyfriend; the notes I exchanged with Jilly during English class; the corsage I wore to prom and pictures of my pregnancy tests.

From an early age I had the urge to preserve artifacts from and document my life. And from the very first moment my mom tossed her Brownie Hawkeye camera my way, a whole other world opened up to me. Instead of standing awkwardly in front of a camera trying to convert my smirk into a smile - on cue (which I never mastered - despite the countless hours of practice!), I called the shots looking down into the viewfinder of that box camera. I shot roll after roll, sending the film off to far away places and waiting weeks to receive the blurry fruits of my labour in the mail. I was hooked. I became the documentarian of our family and they were willing subjects. My camera became my closest ally - capturing moments, expressions, and milestones to be shared and savoured again and again. No judgement - just the truth.

When I was thirteen I handed my dad two years of babysitting money ($315) so he could buy me my first SLR in the big city while he was on his business trip. My Fujica ST701 was a heavy beast but she came everywhere with me - work, school, walks and every family occasion and she helped me fill countless shoeboxes and photo albums with snippets of my life. Ironically, when you document your life, you are conspicuously absent from the story. But it is where I chose to be. I viewed many important moments through the eyepiece of a camera.

I think I have always understood that his life with which I have been be-gifted is just that - a gift of a lifetime; the length of which is undetermined and in which the possibilities are infinite. I am a tourist, seeking out the highlights and bright spots as well as the lessons and messages scribbled on faces. I enjoy those lazy afternoons or night hawk capers when I  break open those dusty shoeboxes and release the past as the audio track runs silently in my head  - the gifts that keep on giving. And  I am grateful for the inner pack rat and hoarder that drove me to collect, document and preserve these precious nuggets from my life. And it continues ... get the picture?

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Great post, Lyn. I have always been a keeper of all the little things that document my life. I have always dated every letter I've ever written to someone, hoping they'd keep it forever. I've always dated the letters given to me, if one had been forgotten to be marked. I've even kept movie stubs from certain nights that were just more than just going to the movies. If they were significant, I wrote who I went with. I want to remember it all. Even if there are pictures in which I am not present, I remember why the image was so important. I love that pictures are these perfectly frozen moments that will forever be preserved.


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