Wednesday, November 9, 2011

je n'oublierai jamais

In high school, I had planned on going to Arizona for spring break with my boyfriend and his family. We made plans to walk over and see Mexico. Since I had been to Arizona for a short while once before, I knew there would be a lot of scenic opportunities that I would want to catch on film (or, as our times would have it, catch digitally). And, since this would be my first time riding a plane and my first time leaving the country, I just knew I had to take pictures.
I researched digital cameras online and bought one of the most expensive cameras that were out at the time. Of course, I only picked the most expensive because it had the best reviews. One of the key factors in my decision making was that it had the fastest start-up of available cameras. I wanted to be able to whip out my camera at a moments notice and have a picture in less than a second, in case we were driving by or something was flying by.
I took hundreds of pictures on that vacation and I'm sure at least thousands that year. Soon, everything I did had to be caught on camera.
On the fourth of July, I was watching fireworks through my digital screen (not even through a view-finder because, again, I had a fancy digital camera). Hardly a picture turned out and before I knew it, the fireworks were over.
I had an epiphany soon after- that I had to stop living my life through a digital screen. I missed seeing the gun powder flaming in the sky in various hues right above my head. I started bringing my camera with me less and less.
My mother and I took a trip to Paris. I noticed her doing the same thing when we saw les feux d'artifice à la Tour Eiffel (fireworks at the Eiffel Tower). I kindly reminded her to just sit back and watch the show. It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. There was an entire light show backing up the fireworks, covering the entire face of the Eiffel Tower. A history of Paris was dancing around in bright lights as things went flailing from the many levels of the structure.
So this was a time for me when I had somewhat turned my cheek to cameras. I felt the experience was better off emblazoned in my mind than in digital storage somewhere. To be honest now though, I miss Paris and I wish I could look back at more of the unique things we saw. Those moments when I wanted to capture them all, completely in my memory. To just absorb the reality of the moment.
I wish I had some sort of photographic evidence of the homeless lady harassing the beer-bellied man asleep on a bench, trying to help him birth his twins. It feels like a soft image, fading more still, and I remember the story more and more but can picture it less and less.
Ah, to have those memories. To be able to pass those stories on with photographic evidence. Its a fine line I draw: to live life through a lens/screen or just through experiences and memories? That is the question.

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