Have you been taking any photos lately?
A snapshot in time can be beautiful and full of meaning, or it can be weird and terribly unflattering. Like this one.
Wow. I must love you guys an awful lot to send this photo into the universe.
Let's further embarrass me by examining it, shall we?
A snapshot can tell quite a story, even several stories all at once.
See the look on Sarah's face?
What? It's too hard to see it? Here, let me make it bigger.
That's Story #1. That is the look of a 19 year old happy to be on her own again. One who's thrilled to have a teensy weensy dorm room all to herself. To share a bathroom with two girly neatniks instead of a pair of grubby brothers who leave the toilet seat up and their dirties on the floor.
Now, back to the photo.
What about Story #2?
That is the leaping form of a ten year old who just spent two hours restrained in a seatbelt, reading The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, his new favorite work of literature. The book has apparently called forth his inner ape, and he must move in leaps and bounces or he'll spontaneously burst into flames.
How about Story #3?
This is a frustrated mother, who would like to shout at the 17 year old camera boy, Would you stop taking dumb pictures and help us move her stuff before this drizzle turns to a downpour, but is afflicted with an attack of Inappropriate Laughter anytime that child makes faces at her.
That snapshot reminded me of another photo, a mental picture my dad shared with me a year ago as I prepared to move Sarah to college for her freshman year. I think it shows the power of story, and how a snapshot in time can reveal surprising things about people. Want to hear it?
Back in the days before my Granddaddy Skaggs mellowed into a teddy bear, he could be pretty intimidating. He was a big, barrel chested farmer who forced crops of tobacco out of the hollers of eastern Kentucky, and once offered my mom a quarter to quit dating his son. Though neither he nor my grandma had gone to college, (nobody had the money for that back then,) he was known for being a wise, intelligent man. My dad planned to leave Sandy Hook for the University of Kentucky, and the day finally came for Granddaddy to move him into his dorm. Daddy had been to UK plenty of times for 4H competitions and thought he knew his way around, but soon after they arrived, they got completely turned around. After a few minutes of wandering around campus, trying to get their bearings, Granddaddy looked at my dad and said, "Son, do you want to just go on back home? You don't need to do this."
This story stuns me. My big tough granddaddy was afraid for his little boy.
Do you carry around mental snapshots that won't let you go? I find these frozen moments of time to be powerful fuel for my writing, but I write memoir, so that's probably not a big surprise. How do you save these snapshots for posterity?
And how about you, artists and fiction writers out there? How often do you recycle these snapshots into your work? I heard a quote by a famous writer's ex wife (Pat Conroy's, maybe?) that he never wrote a word of fiction in his life. I find that fascinating!
Have a wonderful Monday, y'all!
And just so you know, all that stuff finally did make it into Sarah's room.
I'm not sure where she'll sleep, though.