Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Photographs

Have you ever noticed that photographs show up at the strangest of times? The messages that photographs send change over the passage of time, even as the picture itself remains unchanged. Capturing an individual moment, a snapshot of a person or a place or a thing, is magical, really.

Pictures of Addie and Belle bring me uninhibited joy. I have reveled in every age they've been, loved every second of their lives (even if I might not have thought so at the time). Photos of my children are treasures, reminders not just of how beautiful and photogenic my daughters are but of trips and concerts, the Halloween Belle was a clam (photographic evidence of this--obviously homemade--costume is more valuable than gold), Addie on stage in a blue dress during her starring role as Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical: The Musical, a lifetime's worth of Christmas trees with various people sitting underneath them.

I found in a closet today some pictures of Pythagorus and I shortly after we started dating. The camera caught the kindness in his eyes, and I'm so glad it did. His eyes were so kind once upon a time, so kind.

The toughest one, though, the one that's kept me crying all day, was a picture of me taken in Montreal. It was the first vacation Pythagorus and I ever took together--the first parentally-sanctioned vacation I'd ever been on with a boyfriend, in fact--and I will never forget what an amazing time we had. That's obvious from the look on my face--smiling, bright-eyed, relaxed, and happy, for once.

I had been brought low by numerous boyfriends in the past, hurt and scarred and jaded. I had sworn off ever having a boyfriend again when I met Pythagorus in a math class that he started tutoring me in. His kind eyes, his gentle demeanor, the "I've got everything under control, so don't worry one bit" aura that he sent out ... that's what changed my mind about giving the boyfriend thing one last chance.

The girl in the picture, the young woman in Montreal, the one that was me, was twenty-three years old. That picture says, "I cannot believe that, in the depths of my despair, I found this wonderful, kind person who thinks I deserve a vacation here in this amazing city. I cannot believe that a nice guy, a good and dependable and smart and interesting guy, wants to be with me." My almost tangible happiness, of course, seems like a slap in the face from where I sit today.

I will never be sorry. Belle is the best thing Pythagorus ever gave me, of course, but there are a hundred--no, a million stories, adventures, laughing fits, stories, camping trips, jaunts to Montreal, hikes in the woods, and so on and so forth that were gifts from Pythagorus every day for a long time. No matter how hurt and angry and confused I am tonight, as much as I want to rip up that picture of the stupid girl in Montreal because she really should be aware of what's going to end up happening and the unspeakable pain it will cause, I have to honor the love that Pythagorus and I shared for well over five years of marriage. It was there, it was real, and I will miss it forever.

Stupid photographs ...