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April 19, 2012

Meandering Down Memory Lane

This is my last full week at home on maternity leave, and I’ve been a crazy person. All the projects which have sat around for a year (or more) as they waited patiently for me to “get them done while I’m on maternity leave” are now looming over me, accusing me of being a serial procrastinator. The clock is ticking on my time off, and I’m suddenly gripped by a manic compulsion to wrap up all the half-finished jobs.

One of said projects is weeding through a monster box filled with photographs from the past five to ten years and making some order of them. I have roughly a dozen or so empty frames sitting collecting dust. They’ve sat in my bedroom, leaning against the wall, making my husband angry every time he walks past them.
Him: “When are you going to put these together and get them off the floor?”
Me: “I’ll get to it before I go back to work.”
Him: “Your maternity leave is almost over.”
Me: “I’ll get to it.”
Him: “Uh-huh. Sure you will.”
What can I say? The man knows me. Lucky for him, the frames start to bother me as much as they do him, so I set aside a day to attack the photos with a vengeance. My plan is to glance at each photo, and toss it into one of four piles.
1. TRASH (for duplicates, fuzzies, etc).  There are a ridiculous number of photos, because both hubby and I snap photos incessantly with our camera phones, and I love printing them out, even though we’ve got 10 separate pics of my daughter eating a snickers bar. I expect TRASH will be the largest pile.
2. ALBUM. For the cute “keepers”—those that would go in a photo album (a project for yet another day)
3. SCRAPBOOK. Special ones to eventually be placed in the adorable but resource-intensive scrapbook, which maybe I’ll put together when I retire, or
 4. FRAME. Super-duper special ones I intend to display.
I’m going to be ruthless in my decision making process. Utterly ruthless. Riiiight.
I stare at each one, remembering the time, the place, and the people. Some are of my eldest daughter as a baby, and I marvel at how much her new baby sister looks like her. Some are of pets we’ve loved and lost. Some are of my grandparents who I lost ten years ago. I imagine how crazy they would be about my kids. I laugh. I cry. I go through a cathartic moment. Okay, many cathartic moments.

In the first hour, I’ve made it through only a small portion of the photos, and there are none in the trash pile. I feel a kinship with the crazy people on the show HOARDERS, because my I can’t bear to throw any of them out. Each one is a precious memory.

After seven hours of work, I’ve still got a monster box of photos, but I’ve cleared the pile of frames on the bedroom floor. My husband is pleased, and I’ve now got framed photos documenting the genesis of our nuclear family. Happy, smiling faces of our parents, grandparents, and our children line the hallway. I even put together a collage of just me and my husband and some great times we’ve had together.  At Venice Beach, CA when we were just dating. His graduation. Our fourth anniversary (seems a lifetime ago). A crazy fun ski trip from before we had kids.

I didn’t attain my goal of clearing the box, but I did achieve something far more precious. I walk up and down the hallway of my home, feeling centered, balanced, and extremely lucky to have such a strong sense of family.

If you have a big box of photos somewhere that you’re dreading going through, take my advice. Turn off the TV tonight, pull it out, and just flip through a few. If you have someone with you to reminisce with— or torture with your personal stories— even better. Those fifty photos you took of your kid eating spaghetti with their hands will bring more joy to your soul than you believed possible. J


Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Wow, Kelly, ruthless.Can you do that at my house with my photos? I have boxes and boxes and... Get the picture. :)

Sasha Summers said...

Hi Kelly
You're so right about needing to plug in to the people around you, that shape you and love you. Whether we're writing, dodging out to-do list :), being mom, or going back to work - our friends and family need to hear and see how much we value them, too. Glad it was a rewarding cleanse. Enjoy your remaining 'free time' - Hugs!

Kathy Ivan said...

I'm the oddball out here--I rarely take pictures. Don't like having mine taken, either. LOL

I do cherish those few that I have of family and friends from years gone by, though, and they always bring a smile when I look at them and remember all the happy times we spent together.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Kelly. (Just don't ask to take my picture--Grr!!!)

Sylvia said...

My husband bought a small scanner that copies the front and back of pictures and for Christmas gave his mother one of those computer picture frames. The photos went from her as a small child to her current life. So very cool. I'm not one to take a lot of photos, but I do put up the ones that mean a lot to me. But there are lot of junk ones too.


Liese Sherwood-Fabre said...

One word: scanning. Box 'em up and send them to a company that'll do it and send me all back on a CD or DVD--then get an electronic picture framce. I gave these for Christmas presents to my family a few years ago.

Pamela Stone said...

Wow, Kelly,

I'm impressed. Sounds fun, but I'm a little older and I think I may have even more. You have a box? I have an entire 4 drawer, fire proof file cabinet of them. Not to mention 1000s of more recent digital shots stored on both my laptop and a home network device.

And yes, we've scanned some, but the task is monumental. Anyone interested in a second job? Ha!

Alisha said...

Going through old photos can be very nostalgic. I did this recently and came away feeling very! I was've lived a pretty full life, had some wild, crazy times and I'm still kicking!! Glad you accomplished so much. I bet your hubby is glad too. :)

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

I did this recently. I didn't have boxes and boxes, but I had a few hundred. I scanned them all with my portable scanner so that I have digital backups. Then I separated the double prints into a pile to give to people who were in the photo with me if they wanted them. Then I had a trash pile, and my keep pile. I got rid of a significant amount of photos, though I'm still working on sending out the doubles.

Kelly L Lee said...

Thanks to all for the comments - and I'm definitely going to check out that scanning service. That said, there's something very scary to me about entrusting all those memories to a hard drive. :)