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On Memories

On Memories.

I finally madean album to document our first two years of marriage. (I’m grateful there are sites like Artifact Uprising that do the creative side of this for you. Choosing pictures was hard enough.) I intended to do this after year one but life kept happening and suddenly we were celebrating our two year anniversary and I’d barely thought about it again. So combo years one and two it is. 

It took forever to sort through photos from the past two years and pick the ones I wanted to include. I only chose a few wedding photos (that needs to be its own album) and tried to pull some from each major event, trip, or time period. I picked a few from our honeymoon, some from our California road trip, plenty with friends that came to visit, and about one million of Olive.I grouped by theme, rather than chronologically, because I have a terrible memory and couldn’t remember what came before what. 

There’s a page for both Christmas card photos, one for just pictures of Steven and Olive asleep on the couch, and one for just dumb cell phone selfies we’ve taken together. They aren’t the best quality, but might be the best representation of who we actually are.

When it finally arrived, Steven and I flipped through it together. I hadn’t told him it was coming so it was fun to see him relive the memories as we scanned each page. Having just celebrating our anniversary, the introspection over our marriage is still tender.Still brimming with the bubbles of nostalgia. Still raw and soft around the edges. 

A wave of fear ran through me. The same one that hits when I post pictures on Instagram that don’t tell the whole story. The fear of only cataloguing the good things. The anxiousness of excluding what’s “real.” 

I thought about this for a while. Is it foolish to make this happy little album? Will we look through it later in life and misremember?Something about rose-colored glasses. Something about revisionist history. But how do you catalogue the picture-less moments? How could we capture the arguments we had or the times Olive peed on the floor or the days we questioned living in NYC or the feeling we had every time we paid rent? Is there a danger to this “highlight reel” happiness?And is it mocking me from the pages of this book?

The other side of this argument says no. It says that our brains more easily remember trauma and hardship.The details of difficulty stick with us. The scents and sights of sadness. The pain of heartbreak and waning hope. So we have to document these happy moments to even the scales.So that maybe we’ll balance back out to accuracy. Maybe our memories and memorabilia will keep each other in check. 

I think both could be correct.I fear the white-washed Instagram dishonesty as well as the negative memory deception. Both are notable dangers. Both are traps to avoid as we remember. 

But as I weigh these two arguments in my mind I am struck with a third option.Less poignant maybe. Less tangible for sure. But I think the option I’ll go with as I look forward to the next time I’ll look back. 

Maybe the point is not to capture the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. It seems our hearts and our minds do that part for us. Maybe the point is to capture the forgettable – the way Steven looks when he first wakes up and the size of Olive’s paws when we first brought her home and the way the sun cast shadows in our tiny first apartment,where we started this journey together, where we started becoming us. 

These pages don’t hold an ounce of it, in that they don’t show how beautiful and hard and wonderful these years have been. But they hold ounces of it, in selfies at the beach and weekends spent with friends and the buildings and bustle in the background. 

I hope this makes sense. I guess I mean that it feels like the physical extension of the “mites of mercy” I’m always talking about. Like if I could just fill my heart with all that is small and insignificant, I would somehow start to grasp the fullness of the grace I’ve been given. 

Maybe that’s asking a lot from a scrapbook. But it’s the scraps sewn together that make up a life, so maybe it’s not.

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