Persistence of Memories

Women sits in a chair looking at a photoalbum.

This week, I received another “Memorabilia Box” from my Mom. Filled with official school photos, one-off shots, and newspaper clippings, it was a nice little walk down memory lane. Even a Marie Kondo aficionado like myself can’t toss these boxes. I know that means one day, my daughter will have something tangible to remember me by. Albeit a bit out of date for current years.

Wandering through the photos makes me wonder -what does the future of memorabilia look like for her in an increasingly digital era?

Precious Moments for Posterity

I’ve done a better job maintaining her baby book than I hoped. Every month, holiday, and event is filled out -generally close to the actual dates. I’m glad I’ve captured these moments for her and hope, even if it’s a farce, I’ll be able to do the same for any future siblings. I’ve dutifully collected the other proofs of her life, no matter how much I hate clutter. Ultrasounds, hospital bracelets, and daycare crafts all have a home.

But pictures, all the pictures – those are online. Digital prints restricted to limited eyes.

Is there any value in making them material?

What is a Picture Really Worth?

Flipping through stacks of photos vs. browsing a Google Album. How does the ethos differ? For one, many of the printed moments are more entertaining because they’re imperfect. Before digital cameras, a novice had no idea how photos would turn out, so I have entire rolls printed of unfocused, poorly lit photos of elbows. Do these bring me joy? Do I keep these around? What would a future anthropologist surmise about their existence?

More importantly, should I make sure to add more of those imperfect moments to my Google album? I’ve spent hours trying to get perfect shots for Grandparents, but the ones I love most are her goofy little smiles. The ones where she grabs my phone, taking snapshots of her gums until I pull it away capturing dreadful tears and shrieks instead. The baby book documents the milestones, but those are only a fraction of her content. Should I print off reams of photos to keep around in case I want to thumb through? I do it on my phone, but there is that something special about holding pictures in my hands. I missed that feeling until I got to flip through my own past.

Facebook Photos….Forever?

While I’m at it, what about photos for me? There are pictures of my parents before I existed, for sure, but nothing like the abundance of material I have on Facebook. And yet, as I consider terminating my relationships with social media, how can I make sure I’ve captured the moments I want to keep? Do I do a data pull and throw them on a hard drive? Do I let them drift off into the ether, never to be seen again? Do I, heaven forbid, print some off to add to my current piles?

Plenty of photos I’d like to share. For every embarrassment, there’s a good moment and fond memory. While I’m making sure I capture my daughter’s history, I should have the due diligence to capture my own for her. Just maybe not every moment. It helps to maintain an air of mystery, right?

Maybe the physical copies won’t last forever. They’ll brown and crinkle, distorting more each year. In that case, I’ll be glad to have the backups online. But it’s appealing to print them off for a little 5 year old to shuffle through in a few years and exclaim, “Look, that’s you Mommy.” So back to prints it is.

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