This post is part of a project to post a photo and a 1,500+ word story every day for 100 days in a row. Today is day 2
In an effort to streamline this project, I’ve spent the last couple of days sorting through photos to potentially use.
It’s been a mix of enjoyable procrastination and nostalgia. The photos of my kids, nieces and nephews, siblings and other family through the years have been fun to rediscover.
The reminders of vacations and trips that I’ve taken reminded me just how quickly memories can fade into the rearview mirror.1
There were so many pictures of food I’ve made and/or eaten- including several recipes I’d forgotten about. Pictures of sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, flowers and random animals and so, so many saved quotes and memes.2
Looking through pictures chronologically, with all the bad shots, multiple takes, and endless scenery pictures that just don’t do the actual scenery justice has me thinking life is a highway…3 As a chronic traveler, who just got back from a really long4 road trip, it really is an apt metaphor.
Long road trips, particularly those without a solid destination, have a blurring effect on time. Each moment, as you’re in it, is so real and alive. But as every moment gives way to the next moment and the next after that it’s too much to hold onto.
Every sunset that I tried to capture seems to be a futile attempt to stop time in that moment and bottle it up. Just save a little of that feeling for later. But pictures rarely do the emotions of the moment justice.
Looking at my life laid out in pictures, organized chronologically, I see a map of all the people and places from my life. Some for a while, and some for much longer. Then there are those who just stopped showing up in the story. The people who I don’t have contact with any longer. Some by my choice, some by theirs, and some just because that’s how life works as we learn and grow and move.
It’s expected, I guess. People I’ve worked with, neighbors from places I used to live, random dates with people whose names I don’t even remember,5, or people whose lives intersected with mine for just a day or two before we parted ways while on a trip.
Relationships are like adding lanes to your highway for a stretch, or are intersecting roads or even speed bumps. You can’t (and shouldn’t) hold onto every person you ever interact with forever.6 But it doesn’t change the impact they make on your life
Sifting through these memories was also but like walking through a ghost town of past relationships — not just romantic, but good friends and even some family. A map of faces that tell the stories of people who I had many adventures with, some for months and some for years, before they abruptly disappear from the map of my life. There’s the people I kicked out of the passenger seat, usually miles and miles after I should have done it. But there are others who got out and yelled over their shoulder not to wait around for them as they walked away.
There are also many, many more people who the relationship is still there, even if our lives and availability are different than they used to be. People who would invite me to crash on their couch7 if I were in their town. Or who, if I were broken down on the side of the road, would come and pick me up and dust me off. The friendships that may not constantly be on my mind, but that would instantly reignite with a phone call or a text, allowing us to pick up exactly where we left off.
The faces that haunt me are the people who were on the road with me for miles, caravaning or riding shotgun. People who were really important part of my life, not just a passenger, but a co-pilot or navigator. People who, despite me grasping at the remaining smoke of our relationship, still managed to evaporate into thin air, escaping my grasp, vanishing without so much as a goodbye.
In the moment these disappearances were confusing and heart breaking. With time, maturity and therapy, I have the perspective to recognize that although their actions were hurtful, the person who disappeared did so for their own reasons. If it was a problem with me and they didn’t share what that problem was, it’s not my responsibility.8
I’m turning 44 in about a week, which puts me pretty solidly in the “mid-life” portion of this trip of a life. For me, the midpoint of most trips comes with an urgency to see all the things before the trip is over, but also a sense that I’ve been on this road forever. The decisions that seemed so important in the previous days have blurred since they’ve gotten me to where I currently am. But, I see that as I review the photo map of my life too.
The subtle influence from the faces and experiences that have shaped the direction of my life and who I am as a person. People who taught me things I didn’t know that I didn’t know.
Each speed bump in my life has slowed me down for an experience or a lesson to learn. Each change of route and pit stop gave me a chance to be part of someone else’s story for a stretch of road. Each break down on the side of the road has taught me how to be a more resilient person.
This photo, taken on the road to somewhere I’ve long since forgotten, has me thinking about how many adventures are in my rearview mirror. So many twists and turns that I never considered as options or choices in my life. I’ve had so many more opportunities and chances to experience the world than I think a younger me would ever believe
What this picture doesn’t show is what’s ahead. As the road bends you can see the sun rising, lighting up the whats around the next bend.
I’m looking forward to the adventure.
- Buckle up, you’re about to run into a bunch more car/road/travel metaphors.
- The benefit of Google Photos is automatic backups to your Google account. The downside of Google Photos is the resulting quantity over quality.
- Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
- yes, there will be some of those stories coming up in the next few weeks.
- I’m a people person and even for me this sounds exhausting!
- metaphorically and literally speaking
- Emotional boundaries y’all!