Sep 9, 2010

These Photographs

Hi readers! Please welcome my next guest blogger in the series of wanting to hear more from you. Meet Emily Jane - a beautiful blogger who manages to continually amaze me, and keep me grounded with her writing. Well, see for yourself!
If you're anything like me, you have cupboards, boxes, and bookshelves full of photo albums, forever immortalizing the journey from youth to adulthood in a haphazard mishmash of a life chronicled. The first few will be full of the initial endeavors of a young photographer; snapshots of dandelions, paving stones, clouds and windows, captured on a chunky, green plastic camera that began as rolls of film, sent away in an envelope to arrive weeks later on the mat inside the front door. Grainy shots of this and that, the world through the eyes of a child makes way for those of a teenager. Shots of friends, sights, and streets once played upon start to fill boxes to be looked upon a decade later in a quest for evidence: the validity of memories so vivid inside a mind can come into question when an old haunt is visited again. The reality of what is remembered from childhood can be harsh.

I remember each December as a child, the thrill of getting the boxes of decorations down from the loft; the past eleven months seeming an eternity since I'd last seen them. My parents used to literally deck the halls, stringing up garlands of greenery around the ceilings, covered in red bows and golden bells. The tree would always be huge - always artificial, so nothing had to be cut down, but bushy, big, and covered in lights and ribbon. The memory of everything was so vibrant that, finding those boxes of decorations years later, and seeing them through the eyes of an adult, was disappointing: those same decorations were, in reality, so small and sparse that I had to wonder how they ever seemed so vibrant and rich so many years ago.

The same thing happened to me recently, when I visited home. The streets I grew up on had in childhood seemed so big and full of adventure; we'd gather up all the kids on the street and use the green as our stage, putting on singing, dancing, gymnastics and talent shows for all the neighbors. One side of the street was on a hill, the houses on a slight incline which, years ago, seemed the most exciting thing in the world - we'd gather up all the kids and take our bikes and roller skates to the top, climbing on the grass, only to hurl ourselves down the pavement as fast as we possibly could. There were cuts and scrapes and bruises, but they proved no match for the exhilaration of the ride untumbled. Walking those same streets only a few weeks ago, I wondered how I ever thought it was so vast, exciting, or dangerous. The hill wasn't steep, or long, and the walks from my old house to the town centre (which had been an entire day out), were over within ten minutes. How did the world ever seem so big?

I look to my photos in their books and boxes, and see the evidence en masse. My mind has been playing tricks on me while I wasn't looking, taking the reality of memories and enhancing them, like a fine wine, making them better, more full of life and character over time than they ever were in the beginning. But I swear it was all real. It was always that way. But these photographs prove otherwise. Do we see the world differently as a child? Before the world takes a hold of us, shapes us and gives us rules by which to abide, thrust responsibilities and life lessons upon us along with bills and a work schedule which leaves little room for exploring and imagination? Or was it always that way...and something happens to the memories the further we get away from them. Fact gets mixed up with nostalgia, history with homesickness, reality with reflection, and memories get manufactured into something far brighter and more wonderful than the reality perhaps ever really was. Or perhaps as children, our minds take note of what was considered important at the time. Not the rubbish lining the streets, the jagged paving stones or the neighbours your parents didn't get along with, but places begging to be filled with adventure. They way the wind felt in your hair as you pedaled as hard as you possibly could. Finding what now would look like two ordinary hills a few minutes from home, which at the time were huge forts just that little bit further, and thus hidden from the world, a secret playground you could run to when you didn't want to be found.

I'm still not quite sure if the streets, the parks, and the boxes of decorations changed over time, or if the memories did. But I know I can't be the only one who remembers things in a slightly rosier hue than perhaps was real. And though these photographs attempt to prove otherwise, there's something quite magical about memories kept from childhood.

Have you revisited somewhere, or something, that you'd remember differently, and been surprised by the reality?

What do you think readers? Do you remember things from childhood that don't seem so vast and impressive now? Do you think it's a good thing our memories change or do you try to hold onto what you remember from when you were younger? 

Big shout out to Emily Jane for this great post, and for re-doing my Twitter background so it's not boring anymore. Big thanks as well to Jess for the new background and banner on the blog! You ladies rock! 

(Photo: we heart it)


Diana Mieczan said...

I think we do see world different as a child...With time as we grow older our view changed so much...I love to hold on to my childhood memories as I remember them...or as I want to...
Kisses and have a fantastic Thursday

Ps: Becky? I love the new header:) Its beautiful:)

Breathe Gently said...

I know what you mean - but taking the photographs side of your post, I can't wait to get home (and spend a fortune) to print out all the pictures from our life here. I want to chronicle it AND our travels before it all starts to become distant memories..

Nora said...

I recently laughed with my parents over memories that morph, the things we do and do not remember, or at least the way others remember it. That's the beauty of the mind and I suppose life... we all have different views and interpretations of the "truth."

Emily Jane said...

Thanks so much for having me today :) I had no idea the picture would match your lovely new header and layout so well!

EmbellishedbyEmily said...

Beautifully written! I was reading along and couldn't help but think I knew her! I was like, "Hey! We put on shows on our street, too!" And then when she got to the part about one side of the street being up on a hill, I began to think Emily Jane was a pseudonym for Meghan, Laura or Lindsey -- my best friends on my street.

I feel just like this every time I go home. Thanks, Emily Jane!

EmbellishedbyEmily said...

Oh, and the blog looks great, Becks! The cinnamon colors emphasize your crazy love for fall!!

Amber said...

I have folders and folders and FOLDERS of photographs on my computer! I rarely print them though. I should do that more often!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh yes, this definitely happened to me. I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2006; there is this hill at mile 21 that everyone talks about. I never trained on it, so when I ran the marathon, I was running that hill for the first time. And it was MASSIVE. Like it felt like I was climbing a mountain. Then there was an incline for the final 6 miles (cruel, right?).

Well, last year I did the 10 mile race on marathon weekend. I hit that hill at mile 4 of this race and let me tell you, while it was a challenging incline, it was NO WHERE NEAR as massive as I remembered it. And those last 6 miles of the race? I didn't feel like I was running at an incline. But the marathon plays tricks on the mind. The exhaustion blows things out of proportion. It makes a hill feel like a mountain. It makes a slight incline so difficult.

But I think life is the same. I think there are things that sort of 'elevate' experiences. We fall in love at a young age and everything seems glossy and new and fabulous, and then we look back on those memories and see them for what they really were (boy I sound cynical saying that). The mind definitely plays tricks on us.

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