My favoUrite photo album is one that my mother carefully organized with pictures of me from infancy to my early 20’s. Most of the early pictures were on slides so Dad had to get the photos printed. Mom created four albums, one on each family member. She didn’t have a lot of energy while working on this project but it was something she wanted to do before she passed on so my brother and I would have photos from our childhood as well as help in remembering our family tree.
When my brother was moving things from my parents’ house into a storage unit, he asked if there was anything I wanted him to put aside for me. I said there were two precious things: my Winnie-the-Pooh teddy bear and that photo album. It was truly a laboUr of love.
We emptied the storage unit last summer and I brought some boxes to the farmhouse that I still need to sort through. On Sunday, I picked what I thought would be an easy task to get back to minimizing: a box with my photo albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. Most of the photos were taken during my nine-year marriage and I knew the photos well—I had looked through the albums frequently during those nine years.
I took one pass through all the albums and filled a small bag with photos to shred. Then I went for a walk. I needed fresh air. I took a lot of deep breaths. I felt sad and it surprised me.
The next morning, I chose to start again, but with specific criteria for the second edit:
- When I’m an elder, what photos might I like to look at with fondness? For example, not the drunk party pics.
- When she’s an adult, what photos might my niece like to look at of her father’s family? For example, not her aunt’s unidentified and bland landscape shots.
I texted my sister-in-law, Natalie (whom I figured had already gone through a similar purge), for support. With my criteria written in front of me on a sticky note, Natalie texting encouragement, and a goal of keeping only one album, I quickly condensed nine albums into one.
An easier task has been editing and organizing my digital photos. I got a surprise last week when I discovered some pictures on my camera that I had never transferred to my laptop (after I started taking most pictures with my phone): my face with the crazy rash, my trip to India, MF and me together during a lovely hike. And a video of my cat Toffus, looking so big and healthy, leaping for a wand toy. That all required deep breaths too.
I have very few printed photos from my time in the PNW–I plan to choose some special ones to get printed and framed: photos of the cats, scrambling friends with me on a PNW summit, MAC with me backpacking in Yellowstone National Park. There’s enough wall and shelf space in the tiny house to display a little bittersweet.
References and related links:
- MF: manfriend referred to during first year of this blog (and who was very supportive in getting this blog started in 2014).
- PNW: Pacific Northwest.
- alpine scrambling: typically off-trail and un-roped (non-technical climbing) adventure to a summit.
- MAC: mon amie Caroline.
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