The office where my laptop sits charging during the day also has a family computer. My husband, the techy person in our marriage and also the primary photographer, has a series of photos that rotate as a screen saver on this computer. Yesterday, he decided to put all the photos in the library into the mix.
As I've walked by, or quickly stopped to check my e-mail or twitter, these pictures catch my eye. Years of memories all jumbled up, freezing a moment, then quickly fading away to be replaced by another. So many pictures.
I am drawn to the photo montage, remembering not just the exact second the camera was snapped, but all that was going on behind the scene. I see Scott at our old house looking out from his crib and I think of how happy that house made me feel. How it was the home I bought and then where Matt and I lived when we first got married and Scott was born. I can smell the powdery scent of the nursery, hear myself singing as I rocked him to sleep.
Two years ago, Thanksgiving here, Scott is helping Matt stuff the turkey. That was the year I had my 20th high school reunion. I recall my friends coming over the next morning, I was exhausted, but because I lived here, I was the logical person to have the gathering. I wanted to talk more coherently, be more present in the moment, but I was concerned about Scott getting along with the other kids.
Jane as a tiny baby, being held by my mother, reminds me of how awful I felt after she was born. And how sad I was to be away from Scott and Matt and my dog. How I didn't feel close to her at first.
A birthday party for one of Scott's playgroup friends. The expression on Scott's face so clear to me now, in retrospect, that he was overwhelmed. I am flooded with memories of him misbehaving, acting out, having to leave.
A mixed-up chronicle of events, family, friends, places we've visited, the people in our lives, holidays, the house we live in. I see myself and I feel how my clothes fit. I instantly remember whether I was uncomfortable, sad, tired, or happy, content. A glimpse of my hair and I wonder if it looks better now or then. People look younger, kids so tiny and round, the colors and details more vivid than in my mind.
I recall the minutes, hours, days before the picture was taken. I think of what was said, the sounds of laughter, the smell of the ocean, the feel of cold, wet, snow.
Every photo tells its own story. Often times the moment seems so obvious. People smiling, blowing out candles, holding a baby, riding in a boat, playing at the beach. But behind every picture is an entire unknown background. A history that can only be revealed by the person who experienced all that led up to that exact instance.
I can't help but think about how little we truly know about anyone else's life. How they feel, what they experience. How we only see what is revealed to us, what we are capable of knowing. How one moment, one snapshot, one piece of information is only a tiny part of the whole picture. We could never understand the context quite like they would.
I could look at these photos flashing by forever. Reliving each one as only I can.