He owned an expensive camera that required thought before you pressed the shutter, and I quickly became his favorite subject, round-faced, missing teeth, my thick bangs in need of a trim. They are still the pictures of myself I like best, for they convey that confidence of youth I no longer possess, especially in front of a camera.
From the photo albums, every single print of her had been peeled away. Shots of the both of us together had been cut, the parts with her neatly trimmed away, leaving my image behind. Photos of me alone or of mountains and rivers and deer and cats were left intact. Three albums rendered into a revised past. It was as if I'd been alone at birth, alone all my days, and would continue alone.
Having contact sheets for all sorts of episodes in your life seemed to me intriguing and desirable. So much of my own history is beclouded by time, but a few sharp rays, in the form of pictures, falling upon a given day would resuscitate whole contexts. And from this archipelago of moments, scenes, episodes, you could see the larger tectonic movements of your life forming and unforming. You would be reminded of who you are. Or at least of who you were.
Those static images have the uncanny ability to jar the memory and bring places and people back to life. They bridge the present with the past and validate as real what the passage of time has turned into hazy recollections. Were it not for them, my experiences would have remained as just imperfect memories of perfect moments.