When moments become memories


Once upon a time, I thought that I could never, ever take enough of them. I was determined to see the world through eyes rimmed in Technicolor and glossy from processing. I loved the idea that you could frame a single moment, capture yourself and hold yourself hostage in a single second for the rest of eternity. I was fascinated by how quickly the worst of times could become the best of times when trapped within the four walls of a three-by-five piece of Kodak paper.

For the longest time, I took pictures of everything. My fingers grew attached to a shiny, digital camera, and all of my friends and foes were victims of my lethal lens. I captured them in daylight and in the nightlife, in their happy moments and their not-so-happy moments. Every day was a photo album set in different frames, and I spent the evenings studying each of the pictures I had taken. I was in awe of the fact that we could cover so much emotional territory in a mere fourteen hours. The expressions on our faces and the life in our eyes seemed so much more beautiful on film. For that reason, and that reason alone, I was determined not to miss a life-altering moment, should I ever want to look back and see it again.

I was taking pictures the day I met him. Actually, I met him because I took a picture.

My friends and I had gone to the park for a break from studying, and the five of us had been lying in the sun and tossing gossip back and forth when a large basketball landed in our vicinity. I looked up, camera in hand, and took a picture of the expressions of surprise of my friends' faces and the blonde man in the background that was suddenly running towards us. He saw the camera and froze in fear before demanding that I not take the picture.

I took it anyway.

We had an argument, which led to him bribing me with dinner. I had no idea who he was or what I was getting myself into, but I readily agreed among jabs and jeers from my four friends. His single, solitary request was that I not bring the camera to dinner, and I obliged.

One dinner date became two, which became four, and then, when the dinner dates were no longer enough, we began to spend hours on the phone each night, talking about anything and everything. And, for a good length of time, I didn't take his picture.

He was the first person I had ever met who despised my love for photography. My friends were never fond of having their picture taken, but they entertained my whims simply because they loved me enough to bear it. He never entertained me, though. He made it very clear in our time together that he preferred me without the camera, and despite my hesitancy, I learned to feel complete without the camera in my palm.

Now, however, I am glad that I never had the chance to freeze-frame the beginning of our relationship, but I wonder if he ever loved me enough to bear the endless photographs.

I have my doubts.

I didn't actually start taking pictures again until he asked me to move in with him. At that point, I could no longer sacrifice my love for freezing the moment and owning it, loving it, and remembering it with more than just a bittersweet fondness. So I unpacked my boxes and released my camera from its nylon case. It wasn't that I no longer respected his wishes, but more so that I loved him too much to sacrifice the time with him, to let it sift into the sands of eternity and be forgotten. I wanted to document my life, his life, and our life so that one day I could look back on everything and remember the heaven I had found in him.

It became a game for me. Whenever his back was turned or his eyes were closed, I would snap private photographs for my memories. There was the shot of his shadow on the wall, his sleeping face against the satin pillow, his hand on the alarm clock, and his legs beside the plunger as he worked to fix the toilet. We became an album of domesticity, from the plates in the kitchen to the baskets of laundry on top of the dryer, and I snapped pictures of it all. The whole time period was so surreal to me that I think I needed the material reminder that I was actually living in bliss with him.

Of course, it was all gone too quickly, and the pictures began to fade with the glory of the moments we had shared together. Our last argument was over a photograph, and the last picture I took of him involved a glare, icy eyes, and an expletive that haunts my dreams still.

It is the only picture I have of his face.

Now, it is my shadow on the wall, my sleeping face against a rough cotton pillow, my hand on the alarm clock, and my legs beside the plunger as I wrestle with the porcelain god. Now, pictures and memories line my walls and doorframes, reminding me of what once existed and what will never exist again. Each of the pictures are fleeting moments, captured once and preserved so they may last through the vast expanse of time. Every picture was a moment worth saving, a moment worth seeing, and a moment worth remembering. They stare down at me in the darkness, killing me with their colors.

He would be proud, perhaps, to know that his one request is once again fulfilled. Because I no longer take pictures of everything and anything.

I have yet to find another moment worth saving, seeing, and remembering.