Tuesday, January 15, 2013

it gets better

there wasn't even digital color
correction back then...
 on Christmas morning, my mom unwrapped a small box labeled as a photo negative scanner.
"oh, well, we all know how much i love technology," she said wryly.
after all these years, we have learned that.
"no, that's not your present," i quickly said.
"oh! is there something different inside the box?"
being that my mom has employed many varied and creative methods of wrapping and disguising presents over the years, this was a very reasonable question.
"um, no," i began. "the scanner isn't exactly your present. your present is that i'm going to go through all of our old family photos and scan them so that we can have them digitally."
thankfully, she was actually quite happy about this being her present.

and so, each night after the nephews were tucked in, i sat at the kitchen table and scanned hundreds and hundreds of old strips of film while my brother-in-law and i went through the lord of the rings trilogy. by the time i had to come back to texas, i had done the bulk of 1978-1995 and seen a lot of pictures i hadn't seen in years, if ever.

no, a lot of the photos aren't that good, and when you're shooting on film, you can't check to make sure it was a good shot of someone, nor can you take a lot and just keep your favorite. most years would have a dozen pictures from Christmas, compared to this year where i think i took 87 on Christmas morning and then edited down to the best ones on my mac.

but looking back on me and my family in the 80s and 90s was interesting. as i've gotten burned out and tired of and even a little annoyed at my nephews after only a few hours, i've developed new respect for my sister and all mothers and parents who do that all the time. and so i looked at those family moments in a new perspective, since i am now probably closer to my parents' age in those pictures than i am to myself at that time.

it was hard sometimes. kids are annoying. obnoxious. ungrateful. i can say that because i know i was. me and my brother and sister fought with each other. me taking advantage of my little brother or bugged by my sister. things got broken or the dog ran off because no one was keeping an eye on her and huskies are born to explore. and life is just hard and unglamorous most of the time. in a very real sense, looking over these pictures left me very grateful that my parents didn't give up in any number of ways that they could have.

my family is now spread out in four part all over the united states, all with individual lives. but everyone was able to come home for Christmas this year, something i took for granted only a few years ago. there were ten different stockings hung by the fireplace and the house was a home, warm and full. there are no estranged siblings and there were no fights. i daresay that everyone would agree that this was one of the best Christmases we've had (in part because i didn't screw it up.)

and i wish i could step back into one of those kodak negatives and show that family a few of the pictures from last month. not only would they be amazed with digital photography, but i'd want them to know to not give up, because they will make it. the trials will pass, the stresses lighten, and the questions will be answered. it'll work out. really well, actually.

i can't do that. but i can remind myself of that. that as i'm fighting through grad school, wanting to do well in a competitive industry, and wondering if we'll ever have to make room for a new stocking next to mine on the fireplace, yes, things don't stay the same forever.
and if you stick with it, it does get better.

post script: in case anyone out there has been thinking that they should get around to scanning their old pictures, here's the one i used. it's $30 and i've done over 3,000 pictures without any problem.


Becky said...

nicely said. Caleb wants to know if you still have that pirate hat in the disneyland photo.

Jaime said...

great writing. nice pics. great gift to your mother (worth way more than some fuzzy socks and lotion)