Pandora’s Box

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I finally had to do it. It’s been taking up room in my closet since I moved in, and I need the space. Downsizing from full-sized tote to under-the-bed storage is critical. It’s just not something I looked forward to doing.

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It’s fun to go through boxes of old pictures with friends and family, each taking a few out at a time and recollecting the memories invoked by the fading images — rethinking hairstyle decisions and fashion choices, comparing the changing city skyline over the decades, recalling old faithful automobiles, and of course, remembering those who are gone now. It’s always a sweet and sentimental process, laughing through the tears.

By myself however, not so much. I get stuck wondering what to do with all of these pictures. I’ve already put my favorites into frames and albums. This box is mostly full of those candid shots that weren’t the most presentable, but are surely the more honest portraits – kids clowning around, my sister trying to hide from the camera, Mom and siblings around the breakfast table. (Seriously) Who takes pictures at breakfast you ask? Well, if Dad had a new lens he wanted to try or film he had to “use up,” anything was fair game.  And since I bought my first camera at about 10 years old, there’s a whole collection of the world shot from a kid’s perspective. Funny to see what I thought was picture-worthy. My dog “Candy” was a common subject and my little nephews made for cute, albeit blurry, images.

Beyond the captured occasions, I drift into deeply held memories of the people in these photographs — conversations we had, times we told stories and shared laughs, discussions that turned into differences, and decisions that led us to separate paths. Inevitably, I come across photos from events that were overshadowed by someone’s drama… the wedding where so-and-so stormed out, the party where what’s-her-name drank too much, and family gatherings that always seem to be missing the one who could never be there on time.

I really can’t take it. I don’t like spending time in the past. I pitched a bunch of duplicates and poor quality prints, but there are too many years to sift through alone. So I dump the contents of the bigger box into the much smaller box and shift it around until the lid fits.

Then, as I shove it under the bed, I realize:  at least I won’t be adding to this box anymore. Ever since digital pics and online sharing, I don’t have tons of extra pictures floating around. I think I prefer this new photography – take the picture, upload it to all my friends, and be done with it. No more looking back into a musty collection of bygone days. Just sharing what I’m enjoying… now… with people who care enough to enjoy it with me… now… and deleting all the drama.

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