Misty Water Colored Memories (Day 99)

(Photo: The other day, during one of my photo admiring expeditions, I found this photo of my family from ten or so years ago. Pretty friggin’ adorable, if I don’t say so myself.)

I know that I should not go there. In that room off the guest room. The one with the box. And the other box. And stacks of tiny 4 x 5 flexible plastic albums.

It’s been years since I’ve let myself sort through our family photographs. But I’m trying to clear the clutter, my version of Spring cleaning. You have to get to the surfaces before you can clean them. Not that I ever get to the surfaces.

Every time I look at pictures, I lose hours of my life. Most of those hours, thankfully, are spent smiling and laughing and running around the house trying to find somebody to look at that one picture with that friend I haven’t seen in twenty years or that one so humiliating it should have been torched years ago but I can’t seem to let it go.

My husband keeps saying we should scan the old photos onto our computers. Then we can store them somewhere in the cloud and/or on a hard drive where we can access them at any time. And I know he’s right. It’s much easier to organize them online.

But I love pulling an armful of random photos out of a box, picking each one up, and thinking only about that picture–when it was taken, who’s in it, what I was feeling or thinking at the time, what it brings up for me now.

I love the messiness of the experience, the fact that the photo where I’m opening presents at my bridal shower at my Aunt Joan’s house is stuck between a batch of pictures of my daughter’s first birthday party in our backyard. I love that I don’t know what I’m going to find next and it brings all of those foggy memories rushing back.

It makes me sad that I am of the last generation that remembers flapping a Polaroid photo in my hand, anticipating the picture coming into focus.

It makes me sad that I am of the last generation that remembers the excitement of picking up our photos at the Fotomat, and looking through all the photos before driving away.

It makes me sad that I am the last generation that remembers the joy of finding a film canister with a roll of film that was never developed and having no idea when nor where the photos were taken and what we will find once the film is developed.

We take more photos today than we ever did, but because it’s so easy to do, we’ve lost our sense of wonder about what we’ve done–reproduced onto a surface an image of something that exists in the physical world. That is pretty amazing. Think about it.

Because I can’t bare the thought of losing them through a fire or a flood or some other disaster, I will scan as many photographs as I can onto our computer. But, I cannot throw the originals away, at least not all of them.

I need my box. I need to admire them one by one. I need to be in awe of how we can document our days through images that we can hold in the palm of our hands.


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8 thoughts on “Misty Water Colored Memories (Day 99)

  1. This is one of your best. I, too, have a room full of photographs, mine go back to before I was born. One day, over five years ago, I decided to separate the pictures for the children, chose large and small color-matched boxes for each, and still the pictures sit and the whole room is a mess. Why? Like you, I get bogged down, looking at one picture after another, this child or that, me when I was two, my parents before I was born. Let’s see who gets them all organized first….you into the computer, me into the red, green, blue, black boxes. Let me know how it’s going.

    1. Thank you Laura. Keep me posted on your success with organizing all of that. I’m sure you will win because I can’t seem to part with any picture, even if it’s a duplicate.

  2. We have about 5 boxes – the ones that contained a case of diapers each. Most include doubles – the prices for double prints were always tempting, and you’d never know which great ones you’d find that were worth sharing. Always thought I’d go through them during the “next really big snow day,” but that day has never come. Unfortunately, the printed pics ended years ago in lieu of the digital pics lost in the black hole or to Facebook. Love my messy boxes. They bring so much joy. Thanks for the post, SWF. Great one.

    1. Thank Karen. It makes me happy to know that there are many others who treasure their boxes and still haven’t found the time to sort and digitize. If you didn’t find the snow day to do it this year, I’m thinking you may never find that day. 😉

  3. Nice looking family 🙂

    Digitizing your photos is a really good idea, if only because you can back them up online in case something happens to the originals. But there’s no reason to give up your box of treasures 🙂

  4. We need a club – for how to deal with all these boxes of pictures. I have them in the envelopes that came from the developing company. I did start a few albums, but, like you, I get lost in the memories and never seem to get much sorting done.

    I am also really sad that “scrapbooking stores” seem to be closing. Although I suppose you can still find those supplies online.

    And now that I think about it: Sara, when you are done this year of blogging, you should find one of those “blog to print” companies and get your blog and its photos printed out for the year. Somehow that would seem to last longer than these electrons, even though the cloud is supposed to be – I hesitate to say – safer?

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