Monday, April 16, 2012

picture, memory

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I have this photo of my sister and me. It’s one of my favorites. It cheers me up and it immediately takes me back to that day and to that time in my life. We’re in a metro station somewhere in DC waiting for the train that will take us back to our car that will take us back home after a day trip to the city. I’m sitting on a bench, legs crossed and hunched over, my face scrunched up with uncontrollable laughter. My sister is sitting beside me and looking at the camera with a goofy face, her fingers above my head in bunny ears. We’re being silly, and our unfiltered enjoyment is pretty obvious. 

But then I also know how tentative I felt about life that day. I remember how much I needed to escape just for a day, and how perfect a trip to DC sounded. Any train that took me away from life was one I wanted to ride. It all sounds very dramatic, but that’s how things are when you’ve just broken up with somebody. It was my first break-up and I remember that the feeling of loss was so much like the floor coming out from under me. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: every song you hear reminds you of dating — the sad of your sadness, the bitter ones of the way it ended and all the ways he failed you, the sweet ones of the times that holding hands felt like flying. And somehow everything you see has some connection to something you did together, and every joke you hear you just know would have made him laugh. And because it's impossible to share them in the same way, these things make you feel alone, more alone than when you were alone before, and yes, that is possible.

Even though we hadn’t been so serious as to consider marriage yet, all of my imaginings of the future included him. I had to go through and erase his image from those pictures and they looked, if not empty, then rather confused and off-balance.

All this to say that what I needed badly was perspective and what better to bring perspective than a big city full of a nation’s history, and people who I knew wouldn’t let me go. (Because in the aftermath of something as earthshaking as a relationship ending, isn’t what you need to remember and feel held?) To be honest I don’t remember much about what we saw or ate — the things that we typically capture with cameras on day trips. What I remember is feeling separate, in a good way, and feeling safe. I remember being silly. I remember it rained and smelled both dirty and fresh.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Betsy.

    I know this wasn't the main point...but thank God for sisters. : )

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