Writers Group 2/17/10 #2 Photographs & Memories (unedited)

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Feb. 17 Prompt #2 “Begin with ‘All I have left is this photograph…'”

All I have left from my childhood are these photographs. My memory of the events are clouded by the stories that have been retold. I’m not sure if I actually remember them or if I remember the pictures in my mind I developed to illustrate the narratives I heard.

Memory is a funny thing. It’s not a perfect imprint of the events. Several family members tell the stories differently. Maybe if we all sat together and took turns telling the stories the way we remembered them we could piece together the truth.

At some level I suppose it doesn’t matter. The exact words that were spoken or the precise actions that were taken may not be as important as the way we felt with each other.

The photos can help with that. Looking at the photographs evoke a feeling. Flashes of memory come crashing in. Some stories are told with humor. We laugh now about how I walked home crossing a busy highway while my uncle took a nap. We even laugh about my tricycle adventure around the block and being escorted home by the fire truck.

But sometimes looking at the photos brings tears. Tears not so much about painful memories but sorry over the loss of childhood. The loss of innocence. There are even tears of sorrow over how much joy and pleasure was experienced in that childhood and yet it wasn’t enough. It doesn’t seem to matter now. It wasn’t enough to guarantee happiness for the next generation of children.

The more I think about it, the more I realize it isn’t true. The photographs are not the only thing left from that childhood. The child is still there deep inside, living in an adult body looking for the same things she searched for back then.

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