Yesterday was moving day. No, we haven’t sold the house, but this time each year, we move things around just for the heck of it. We seldom accomplish any improvement in convenience or life-style, but we do it anyway. Hope springs eternal.
As I sat watching the sister grunt and groan while attempting to move a five-hundred pound roll top desk, fully loaded, I noticed what appeared to be a photo album. You remember photo albums, don’t you? They were used before digital things were discovered. I brushed away several layers of dust, pried off a half sucked cough drop that had pretty much disintegrated and took a stroll down memory lane.
The scenic photos looked vaguely familiar, but for the life of me, I just couldn’t place the people. I asked the sister if she knew whose album it was. She had her eyes scrunched shut and was using her chin to anchor the pile of books on top of the desk, while hoisting one end to clear the cable wires. Apparently she couldn’t hear and hoist at the same time, so she turned her head and snarled, “WHAT???” at me. The books slid, she tried to catch them, and the desk dropped like a lead boulder.
“That’s your wedding album..”
“No it isn’t. These aren’t wedding pictures.”
“No, those aren’t. Those are from Milton, at camp. I ran out of pages in the other album, and you only had a few of your wedding, so I stuffed them in the back.”
“Well, who are these people? Who do the kids belong to?”
“They’re mine, you idiot. And that’s you, there’s blah blah blah…” I tried to follow her blow by blow description of that day at the camp. I had a vague recollection of flipping over in an inner tube and partially drowning, spilling my beer while trying to swat a mud wasp, and an unexpected third degree sunburn due to a new bathing suit.
We came to more pictures, and the people were beginning to look familiar. I asked the sister when she got fat. She said right after I went blond and got stupid. Tucked in between the pages was a small Polaroid of a young girl wearing a crown. I began to convulse with laughter. It was the sister on prom night. She was wearing a strapless turquoise blue “Scarlet O’Hara” dress that covered half of the living room.
What an ordeal that was. The bones in that dress could have punctured a lung. My mother went through half a box of Kleenex filling the front, and stuffing her in the car was a Kodak moment, to say the least. Just as my father would get one half of her hoop shirt jammed in, the other side would spring free. They finally put her in the back seat with the back of the hoop framed around her. She looked like a scene out of Ziegfeld Follies.. Her date said he felt like a chauffeur.
I noticed one kid that looked somewhat familiar in many of the faded photos. I asked the sister who he was. She said, “That’s you, before you had boobs and blond hair.”
“Get outta here.”
I took off my glasses and held the photo up to my nose. By golly she was right. There I was, skinny as a coat hanger, no front teeth, peeking into just about every picture. We spent the next few hours pouring over that album, reliving that past, laughing at each other. CDs and the Internet cannot hold a candle to the old photographs stuffed in dust covered albums and forgotten for years. Holding those crinkled, yellowed photos was like holding a loved one now gone, gently caressing a cherished piece of our lives. It was real….and it still is.