Pictures of You

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” Nan Goldin

I’ve always been a bit of a photography junkie myself and it was this quote that helped me understand why. The second my heart clenches from the beauty of the natural world or is so full of the joy from the company of loved ones, it feels right to somehow try to immortalize that feeling that I know… I know deep down is only temporary. A picture can only ever capture a fraction of everything felt in that moment.

The pandemic has been a lonely time for me. For the last few months, I haven’t gone out with friends at all and before that it was very limited. I live alone and I stayed home for the holidays. I had friends and family move and other friends drift away because this is a hard time and the energy to keep in communication about the mundanities of life just isn’t there for everyone. I try to be understanding, I get it. I know what depression feels like, I lived there myself for longer than seems possible long before the world ever knew a 2020 global pandemic would come along and shut everything down. There are times when I feel like the timing of the pandemic was a cruel joke in the narrative of just my life. I had finally picked myself up, I had finally faced hard things, I had grieved, I was coming to life again. And then…suddenly everything was quiet.

There have been stretches of time in the past “almost a year” that have been harder than others. I read and hear people say, “have compassion for yourself” and “it’s a lot to just have survived” and that’s true, but I already lost too much of my life to dark days, to self-hatred, to being unable to just pull myself up by the bootstraps. There’s no roadmap for this in the pandemic.

As someone who has worked in social media and as someone who has always taken a lot of photos, my old phone was full to the brim as was my SD card. I have spent some time in the last few months looking through my photos. It’s amazing how a simple photo can bring back the memories. Some of them full of pain, the years leading to the pandemic, save for a brief 8 month period right before it, were very hard. But they also fill my heart with love and memory. And reminders of all that I’ve been through, all the people I’ve known, the experiences I’ve had and yes. Reminders of all that I’ve lost.

I made a return to Facebook during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic. I left the platform awhile ago (at least regularly using it), but have found some comfort in seeing updates from people I’ve known throughout my life. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen a lot of loss, a college friend lost her spouse to cancer, a college friend her life to cancer. There’s been a lot of joy, too. New babies, miracle adoptions, life.

But it was on Facebook, during the hazy days of Christmas vacation, as I was scrolling through my timeline I saw a photo of an old friend. He was smiling and even though it’s been many years, looked just as warm and friendly as I remembered him. I may never talk to him again in this lifetime. I only saw this photo because he was tagged in it, but it filled my heart with so much warmth. The memories of who we have been and the people we have known have a place of importance in our lives. While I certainly never want to get lost in the past, it’s nice to remember.

Moments of friendship, of good times, they are eternal because they live inside us.

I hope warm memories are keeping you company during this pandemic age as well as the comfort of creating new meaningful ones.