Wednesday, October 28, 2015

past present

I've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks working on a photobook, not for me or a Summer Gathering one (although one of those is also in progress), but as a birthday present for one of my self-appointed nephews. I'm reasonably sure no-one who sees this post will see him before he gets it, or if they do I'm sure they can keep a secret!

For almost four years we both lived around here and I spent many a weekend plus time in the school holidays looking after him. Anyone who followed my photostream on Flickr will know I took a lot of photos of him, and the ones that got uploaded were often only a fraction of those taken. I'd hear 'Take another, and another, and one of this' as he'd pull a different pose, expression or jump yet again off whichever piece of playground equipment it was, aiming for that 'perfect' shot.

These days though he's very reluctant to be in front of the camera and I practically have to plead with him to get a more up to date photo, so I figured it was time to share a reminder of how it used to be! Well that and the fact that when I was visiting recently he very proudly showed me an album with old photos, school certificates, and postcards I'd sent to him over the years. I'd thought about making the book last year but wasn't really sure the time was right so left it, this year though I knew for sure he'd appreciate it.

It was lovely looking back at the photos as I pulled the book together, it was as much a document of my life then as his. Amongst the stuff I'd recently brought back from Pukepoto was a bundle of paintings and drawings he'd done when staying with us. Those have now been photographed and recycled, it was hard to let go of them even so. But I have a box that has been covered with his pictures that I keep my files in so I do still have some originals. I think putting the photobook together helped me let go of the pictures, realizing that it was the memory of him doing the painting and drawing with me that was far more important to me than what he actually produced.

I've also been sorting through a box of cassette tapes, and I managed to halve my collection - again! It's a decade now since I had anything to play them on so it really was getting ridiculous to keep them all. I wrote a list of a pile of albums that I had that had been copied by various people that I had yet to get on cd or electronically and parted with those, and for mix tapes I'd put together either from my own or various past flatmates/boyfriend's music collections I went through and wrote a list of the tracks I now don't have, and parted with those tapes too. Mix tapes made for me by others survived to live another day, along with some recordings of friends' bands and a few originals that I still can't bring myself to part with even if I do have the cd/iTunes version now! Then to make up for what felt like a ruthless cull I splurged on iTunes and bought some of the most nostalgic 'missing' tracks, and fished out the insert cards that had friends' handwriting on and kept those too. After all, it has reached the point now where it is the memory of the people associated with it that is far more important than the physical means to listen to the music. And a few pieces of card take up way less room than a pile of C90s!

So two very different eras of my life, one recorded in photographs, the other in music (I've photos of that era too, but they are a task for another time), both now reduced to a more compact mostly digital archive. Another step towards a smaller scale of living without sacrificing the important things, the memories of people who have shaped my life; our love, laughter, tears and hugs.There's a quote from Maya Angelou: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel, this is very true and is probably the most important thing to remember about someone, but it is nice to have some physical reminders of the times you have shared all the same.

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