Streaming past are lives all around, like stars above that circle the world, like cars sweeping past on the road outside, like strangers on the sidewalk, all a blur. We’re busy, so we don’t notice as much as we might. Some days we miss the sad frown on the little boy sitting with her sister on a park bench. Some days the quick reflexive hug between them speaks volumes.
Who’s to say what frames attract our notice. Where do our viewfinders rest and why? What warrants the click? What then from the roll do we recall when back again under our safelight, at home, while the world sleeps.
Here’s a shot I took when I was eleven. The young woman is my sister, about to leave for her senior prom.
Most would rightly think the photo too dark, but that’s just the surface. The longer you look at it, the clearer there’s a story, and while usually I feel that “to explain is to explain away,” with this one, I’ll spill.
She’s thinking she may never see her mother again, as later that night, our mom would have an operation that would most likely kill her. Contained within her somber pose is an echo of the strained talk of prom details beside the hospital bed, with both wishing for the mother/daughter dress-buying, hair-preparing, home-movie they’d always imagined, but instead finding that simple regret eclipsed by a much stronger unspoken wish to simply see each other one more time.
Life is a grand sprawling tender rapture, with stories that reach right into us, should we let them. People keep telling me that folks won’t take the time to annotate photos, to mark up their memories. They suggest our product will fail simply because nobody’s gonna want to do the work.
I disagree. I think people will take the time, because it’s about living our lives, it’s about cherising our time together, it’s about honoring the loved ones we miss. People will do it for the simplest, most human, of reasons.
They’ll do it for love.