Monday, August 24, 2009

A Snapshot in Time

Happy Monday!
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.
Love, Becky

16 comments:

Kim said...

I have a mental snapshot of how the face behind the camera must have looked to have you laughing that hard.
Still love your blog. Have a good week.

Susan said...

Love the picture. This post is bit different than last year when you were about to send her off into the world. What a sweet story of your Grandfather. I guess we all have moments frozen in time, we just need to find a way to bring them out more often. Happy Monday, enjoy your week!

Natalie said...

Brilliant.
Makes me want to dig around in a box of old photos.

Susie said...

I love the way you look at the world.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My husband often says that a writer has all the material he'll ever need by the time he's seven years old. I think there maybe some truth in that.

T. Anne said...

That was a great 'snapshot' into your day! And what a day...!

Suzie said...

Wow back at school I remember that

Leah Skaggs said...

ah the encyclopedia of immaturity... sorry 'bout that!

adrienne said...

I love the picture and this post!
I just came back from visiting my parents' house, and brought back an old photo album. It's amazing how many stories and mysteries it contains.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all. I hope I've sent you into your own box of snapshots, like Natalie!

Now quickly delete that awful photo from your memory, please. Thank you.

Oh, and Leah, no prob on the book. It's keeping us all laughing--except when it gets obnoxious. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Congratulations on accomplishing that task. Hysterical photo and story, too:)

Susan Tuttle said...

sweet memories we have as keepsakes and the gift to make more:)

Kelly H-Y said...

Such a neat post ... and, what a riot, once you explained all the pieces of the picture! Those pictures ... physical ones I've snapped and mental ones in my head, play a huge part in my writing!

JaxPop said...

I was traveling Monday so I missed this one. Sam looks like a trip. Has he tried riding a bike off a 2 story roof yet (& then grab onto a pine tree to break the fall?) I'll have my youngest son send him a note to explain the mechanics of it if you'd like.

My blog is as close to memoir as I'll ever get but I do grab onto mental snapshots for my fiction, especially for characters. In my book I referred to & described an actual family photo. It was my subtle way of paying tribute to my incredibly awesome parents.

Gina2424 said...

Ah, what a great UK story! Just left my baby at college last week, and with his refusal to let mom do ANY decorating, it looked like a prison cell. He was fine with it (I think). Brave you- I have too many caught in the camera looks like that myself. First job? (Never babysat a day in my life- should have!) Started writing for the daily newspaper in 10th grade for 30 cents and inch and was still at it three years later- my one and only kid job.

Fete et Fleur said...

I can always count on your posts for a chuckle. I loved this one, and you look wonderful!!

Hugs!
Nancy