I went up in the loft recently, searching for pictures of my sister doing gymnastics (for this post) and I came across an album, almost forgotten, of the end of my time in New Zealand. I was going to put the album back when I decided to take a few snaps with the iPad and post the pictures to Facebook in case they were ones my friends hadn’t seen for a while.
I love photographs. I take thousands. I love the digital age where there is no limit to how many we can take. However there is a downside. It’s unlikely I’ll ever stumble across an album of fifty snaps that tell a story in the same way as the one I found today. Now they’re all on the computer and there aren’t fifty, there are five thousand at least. Plus they’re all muddled so I can never find the one I want.
One day, in the not too distant future, the hard drive will degrade and they’ll be gone forever. What will my children flick through, when I’m gone, and discover a life they don’t remember?
Photographs are so important to remind us of the truth of our past. I found pictures of me happy at school, me thin and brown, me doing crazy things like skydiving and canyoning. Pictures of friends whose names I’ve forgotten but were precious back then. Places I’ve forgotten, lives I’ve lived.
Occasionally I find photographs of the kids I don’t remember taking or that hubbie took. I find them by accident in a random folder. My precious memories. But there are too many to sort, too many to print, too many to choose from.
When I travelled round NZ for three months I took about 10 rolls of film. Around 400 photographs in total. I chose each shot with care and wrote down where it was taken. They’re all labelled in an album and it’s one of my greatest treasures. Now the only way I can catalogue is by date taken and even that only works if the date on the camera was right.
I look at pictures of my grandma and grandpa, and my father when he was younger: all posed and beautiful and precious for their rarity. Maybe that was better than a million photos cataloguing my children’s every move. That said, I wouldn’t be without my various cameras for an instant. These early years of parenting are such a blur, I need the photos to be my memory. But maybe, just maybe, I should take slightly fewer of them.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire looked up at the hostel building and felt a sense of calm. No more cooking, no more sitting like a lemon in a tiny lounge, trying not to feel like the girl that time forgot.
The hostel spread out in front of her – a bespoke built red-brick building. It looked more like a Travelodge than the YHA buildings she had stayed in recently. I guess it lacks charm, but I bet it more than makes up for that in facilities. Even if it does look a bit like a rocket ship about to depart.
As she headed to her room, Claire’s mood continued to rise. A sense of newness permeated the building. Each bunk had a neatly folded sheet, pillow and duvet placed in the centre of the bed. Long-since used to making her bed before sleeping in it, Claire only saw the organisation and happy anonymity of it all. Just what I need to get back into the swing of my challenge, before Carl gets on my case.
Her phone rang. Oh bugger, I bet that’s Carl, summoned like an evil genie.
She put the handset to her ear, waiting to hear her boss’s angry tones down the line.
“Hi Claire, it’s Julia. Thought I ought to check in on your progress.”
Great. The evil genie has sent his handmaiden. I would have preferred the master, he’s easier to discomfort.
“Jules, hi, how are things in the shiny world of AJC?”
Claire could sense the teeth-gnashing that her use of ‘Jules’ had triggered. She also knew that Julia wouldn’t rise to the bait. Not immediately. She would have to try harder.
“I’ve just been having coffee with the head of Live Recordings at the BBC.” Or something like that. Bumbling idiot, but she doesn’t need to know the details. “Charming fellow. I met him in Lincoln Cathedral. You’ll read about it on the blog later. I assume you do keep up to date, so you can report back to Carl my every move?”
Not letting Julia speak was bound to be whipping her temper up to a fever-pitch. Claire wondered if she could keep up the endless prattle, but she was tired and wanted the conversation done with.
“That’s why I called.” Julia dropped her words into the gap like hot bricks. “Carl says there hasn’t been anything interesting on the blog for weeks. I’m sure there’s no excuse to be hiding behind a doctor’s note or a sick sister any longer. It’s time to start earning your wages instead of coasting around have a jolly.”
It was Claire’s turn to grind her teeth. She is trying to goad you. Do. Not. Rise to it. Or maybe she is just an insensitive cow. Either way, hold your tongue. Claire took a steadying breath and re-entered the fray.
“No worries, Jules. I’m in Sherwood Forest. There’s bound to be something here that will be suitable. Or you could save me the bother and whiz over one of your oh-so-helpful emails. Actually, yes, why don’t you do that, Jules? Then you can earn your wages.”
She hung up the phone, before the PA could retaliate, and leaned against the wall. Her heart beat double time, knowing there would be fallout from insulting Julia. A Director’s PA didn’t fetch and carry at the behest of a mere underling, particularly not one in the bad books as she seemed to be. When will this farce be done? Maybe it’s time I put an end to it. The Maldives would be lovely at this time of year. The thought didn’t make her soul sing as it usually did.
Claire looked round the utilitarian room, with matching bunks and plain blue carpet, and wondered when the idea of hot sandy beaches and sparkling blue sea had ceased to have a pull on her heart.