Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I upload digital photos into folders on my computer in the same way that I discard the day’s clothes into piles on my closet floor. I let them stack and build and pile there until eventually, the mess overwhelms me (sometimes to the point of despair) and the closet is no longer able to function as a closet, so I am forced to organize and clean up. Well, despite snow at the end of March, Spring Cleaning has arrived, and I finally sorted through that messy photo closet and put together a family photo album of George's first year. Every year I buy a photo book on Groupon, and I feel really good about all the money I saved in so doing until I get that email reminder to "Go use your Groupons" which are on the verge of expiration. Still, I procrastinate. Who wants to straighten and organize a messy closet? Then I spend all day the day before expiration trying to beat the clock as I frantically upload and assemble photos into a photo book. As a result, I give our photo pages ridiculously simple summative captions such as "We really enjoyed the quesadillas" to describe our experience in the hospital when George was born, or "George loved the subway" to sum up our entire time in New York City at Thanksgiving, or “George discovered pickles” to describe our family reunion at the beach… (Incidentally, in my frantic rush, I forgot to include the photo of George ravenously devouring a pickle). I feel compelled to wrap the visual representation of our experience into some sort of narrative package, but with the pressure of the last minute deadline, that narrative is reduced to the first random sentence that comes to mind when I remember the event pictured. It is an unsightly work of free association. When the album finally arrives in the mail, and I force Matt to sit down and reflect on our year together, we get a good laugh. I suspect Matt enjoys making fun of my captions more than he enjoys looking at the photos, although I think the typos actually grieve him. (He is kind enough to not say this out loud). His grief is understandable. Our family generations to come will believe their ancestors ignorant of standard English language and usage, and it will be my fault. One of my favorite English professors in college constantly drilled in the mantra that "The real writing is in the rewriting," stressing the significance of revision. My unrevised albums are definitely testament to that truth. They are not shining moments in our young family's recorded history. The photo album task for the year 2012 was particularly cumbersome because I took twenty times the amount of photos that I normally take in any given year. It was George's first year, and prior to our son's birth, at least a handful of well-meaning advice givers told me, "Make sure you take photos of everything or you will forget. It all goes so fast." That kicked my already overzealous shutter happy index finger into overdrive, and it impressed on me the false conviction throughout the year that I had not taken enough, and I was therefore already forgetting precious moments with my firstborn than I could never get back. Thus, on more than one occasion, I had a "serious talk" with Matt (bless his patient heart) which featured blame casting as a primary confrontation technique--me telling him that our firstborn would not remember his mother at all because I was always behind the camera and never in front. If you looked at our photos, it would seem that my husband was a single parent. Of course, this would be all Matt's fault. Fearful of a Mama Bear's wrath, sweet Daddy Dear kicked his photo ventures into overdrive (these little "talks" may have permanently scarred him). We both overcompensated (one of us at “gunpoint”). The result was having to wade through a near 10,000 photos to make final selections for the 2012 photo album which I imagine no one will ever look at except for me and my distant descendants (one can hope), and probably George’s grandparents. I think it's safe to say that the declining caption and photo quality as the book nears October, November, and December reflects the tiresome burden of digging through so many images. When I clean out my closet, I usually take two bags to Goodwill, overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I have hoarded since the last cleanup. So, now, just in time for my second child's arrival, I repent of the digital photography age which has spoiled me. Back when I paid for film, I thoughtfully framed and considered each shot. I told Matt that if I am not careful about swinging hard in the opposite direction, Baby #2 is either going to think he was adopted or that he entered into the world as a one year old (I feel certain my digital repentance stage will be short-lived). All this to say, as I went back through our photos, I was reminded of some really special moments-- moments I hadn't forgotten yet, but that I was happy to be reminded of. Throughout George's first year, I posted them to Facebook for George’s grandparents and other friends see. Now, in an effort to organize the messy closet that is my desktop photo folder, I thought I'd post some of them here.