I remember this picture, I had been sunbathing and someone shouted smile. I jumped up and tried to cover myself. The shutter clicked, a second of my life, captured. I screamed and ran around the beach laughing trying to get my image back. There was no delete button then, it was done, I hid my camera. I must have been about 20, embarrassed by everything. I throw the picture back into the pile and rifle through the others, my past has paused my present.
I am just one day old, then 2,3,4,5 then double digits. I touch the grainy black and white images and think how much I look like my daughter.
I have a million things to do and it’s getting dark outside, I put my past down but can not close the lid to the box I have opened. I was supposed to be putting a memory away, instead, my past is escaping.
I have been a showgirl, a mouse, a starlet, a puppet, a mermaid, a sad clown, and a flapper, it appears I was also married to Dracula at some point.
To Myself; when I am old and annoyed, grumpy, sad or regretful, I must remind myself that I was once these things.
It is too late to start dinner now, I ask my daughter to pull the curtains, she joins me.
Here I am pregnant with you, and here before I knew you, and here before I knew myself. My first staff Christmas party, first holiday abroad, so many firsts. And look, here you are with me.
To my daughter; please remember when your children do not want to kiss me because I am wrinkly and smell funny, that you would run into my arms and beg for butterfly kisses.
She smiles, picking pictures up with me, she is busy with uni study, ‘you never let me go through these’ she smiles and has to get back on with her studies. She is right and I must also get on. The light is bad, so I move to the kitchen bench and put the lights on. My son comes through and asks what’s for dinner. I show him a picture of when he was a baby. He says he looks cute and rifles through the pile with me. ‘Did you slay when you were young’ he asks. ‘Yes, I did son’ I reply.
To my son; please remember when my skin is grey and I am frail and you are looking at your watch because I am so slow, that I was fast, young and that I slayed.
Look I was pregnant with you there, on top of the world! Here is your dad and me, we have just promised to try and love each other forever. Here you are just born, did you know I had a horse? Here she is. I once scootered around Greece. Oh my goodness, I was your age here.
I drop the pictures onto the bench in front of him.
My son takes a couple of pictures of himself on his phone and heats up some soup, he is going out. Just one last look, I promise myself as my husband looks over my shoulder. He knows there is no dinner, the vacuum cleaner is still in the middle of the room. “Give us a look,” he holds his hand out and I show him our dating days. He shakes his head, ‘were we ever that young?’
I pass him pictures of my mum and dad and their parents. ‘Do you remember me in this black dress, you wore the tartan waistcoat’. Yes, he remembers, it was a work function.
To my husband; please remember if I can not, this evening we shared under the lights that looked like stars. We danced and laughed and you got up on stage. Remember that I wore this dress and you wore your tartan waistcoat and we could not believe that we had found each other.
Our story stops when the children are about 5 and 7, as that’s when we went digital. In a moment of panic, I downloaded everything onto disk when we relocated. I am glad I did as my laptop was stolen. Although my pictorial history is safe and now even backed up, we hardly look at our digital selves. Pictures should be laid down on paper, not left in a cloud or on a disk. I will get the disks out and make some actual albums, it can all be done online now. I put the pictures back and start to close the lid. My husband puts the kettle on, then I see this.
Look at me, I remember that shirt, I’m in my early twenties, and I am writing. Some things never change. Yes, I am definitely going to make some albums but if I never get round to it, children here I am, before you knew me. The rest of me, of us, is on a disk somewhere.
To whom it may concern. When I am old and small and I only have a bit part in life , Please remember what you see is not all of what I was.