Backlogged from April 16, 2015.
As I sit on a Wi-Fi-less plane with a few hours left on my first leg to New York, I’ve got little else to do than look at old snapshots in my Camera Roll on my iPhone.
Clearly a blessing as I skim through my phone’s thousands of photos that allow me to remember days past and memories that would only have faded with time and yet a curse as it sends my state of mind into a jumbled mess of nostalgia.
Photos from my apartment on N 27th: with Devin, snowstorms, the Fourth of July, birthday parties, surprise events I spent months piecing together, travels across the face of America. Lile and Basil, and many, many home cooked meals. And even more divine feasts from Marrow and my various food stints around the city. And even more bags of Drive-Thru McDonalds and Taco Bell.
Then came photos from my first trip to Phnom Penh. The one that made me want to move there to enter a vein that would forever effect me, images of the time there that instantly had me in love with the country. These photos were of my mom and I, me brunette, she glowing- and we vacationing and experiencing the Kingdom for the first time together.
Soon after I saw pictures of my goodbyes, the following months of my Cambodian trip and remember how torn I was about coming home, deciding to leave, and eventually making that leap. I remember the difficulty of separating from a life stateside and sanctioning away from my friends and family just as we were entering our early twenties, coming into our own. What a heart wrenching time that was, and yet I lived through it.
The next- and the longest- stream of pictures were of my time in Phnom Penh and Cambodia. These were particularly taxing to sift through: I deleted many of them. It would be impossible to review every wonderful, mundane photo from over the course of three years. Ritchie’s rugby tournaments, sunbathed afternoons on the balcony, drunken nights, hastily snapped pictures from off the back of a motorbike, countless snaps of Mike’s Burgers and The Common Tiger eats, island destinations.
I can remember some of the exact moments the shutter went off for many of them, and can only smile when remembering that shard of time. I’m grateful for these reminders, that one day I will be able to look at them and feel nothing but softness.
Now I look at images from the past several weeks being back home in Washington. They have a subtle warmth about them; they’re comfortable, they’re familiar. I’m positive there will be hundreds more to come and with them, experiences and moments tied to each light touch on my screen. They’re not special in any photographic way or form: the lightning isn’t right, the depth and angles are off kilter, and the subject matter is anything from flooring yet all of these things are more special to me than anything found in the Louvre or MoMA (maybe not the abundant pizza snaps).
I wonder what, who, and where I will be looking at in a year’s time as I lightly move through my screen. I have hopes, that’s for sure, but if you’d asked me three years ago what I thought would be in my Camera Roll now- the answer would have been entirely different than my reality.
So next time I lift my phone to capture a place whether it be a stunning cityscape or a silly graffiti painting of a little monster, someone I deeply love or a random person in passing, a Michelin Star meal or takeaway Chinese- I’ll remember that these things are all tied to something bigger, and that capturing them may mean all the world to me one day.