Good photos tell a story. They touch your heart. They offer a window into a rich moment in someone’s life. But it’s hard to find just the right photo, one that tells the story you need to tell right now.
Which got me thinking: What photo would tell the story of my life? My real life, with the dogs resting on my bed and the cats meowing to go outside? With my daughter sleeping in the other room and my partner out for drinks with a friend? With the computer on my lap in the bed? Which picture tells this story?
Is this even the story I want to tell?
Facebook has us telling stories like these all the time – but always with a zing, a twist, a joke, or a Deep Thought. Because otherwise, who cares about the dog now snoring beside me or the cat who thinks he’s a dog at the door? Could be any dog. Any cat. Who cares? So we frame it. We tell a story ABOUT it. We don’t post just the picture. Or – we rarely do. We embellish. We colorize. We crop. We enhance. We edit.
But I want the bold moment, unadorned. The reunion after a week apart. The first swim across the pool. The moment I first held my baby in my arms.
I remember the moment I first held my baby in my arms, of course, even without the picture. I’d been snapping photos for half an hour, but once I had her in my arms, really had her in my arms, having abandoned the camera, I wouldn’t let her go. I held her, I think, for a full hour, although my partner and our eldest were eager to hold her again, too. She was mine, really mine, and I was amazed.
But these unadorned mind-blowing moments, I rarely record in words or on film. They are simply what is.
So what photo would tell the story of my life today? Would taking a snapshot make it more or less important than it feels right now?
A computer on my lap. A dog at my feet.
On my night stand – A half empty beer can. My phone charger curled on a stack of books. A small square photo album stuffed with polaroids from 1972. Chapstick. A pen. Scrabble tiles that spell my name (Thank you, Jocelyn). A green swirly cup with a lid and a straw (if you have cats, you’ll understand). Cien quetzales de Guatemala. Reading glasses – the plain ones, not the ones I carry in my purse. A sliver of red Arizona rock. The book I’m reading now. My Droid.
Five pairs of shoes on the floor by my bed – my everyday Docs, black; some casual/dress shoes, also black, with grey stitching, which I bought years ago in Spain; bright orange slip-ons from Morocco; brown Rocket Dogs with small orange and green hearts all over, and gold skulls; tall black vinyl boots. And slippers with faux fur lining, probably fifteen years old now, ready to be replaced except they are – so clearly – my faves.
These objects tell the story of my life tonight.
Just as a tiny bedroom with white shelves all around, green carpeting, and a window I always kept cracked just the tiniest bit even in winter, told the story of my life as a child.
Is there a photo that tells the story of your life? What objects do you have close at hand?