This is for the 52 stories group on flickr, where we take one picture each week that goes with a story. I’ll be putting them here as well as on flickr.
The flash stinging our eyes was the sign to run. As soon as we heard the whirr and the bright light hit us, we’d race to my father, trying to be the one who got to hold the photo while it processed.
The times I got to hold it, I would run off into a corner, fighting off my sisters. These were magical moments. Watching the photo slowly develop, people coming into focus; this wasn’t technology. It was wizardry. First there was nothing, and then hands, faces, hair, sky, grass. I’d wave the photo around to get it to dry (which I was told never to do), then I’d hold it up to my face and inhale deeply. The smell of film processing. The smell of magic. And always, the instant gratification.
There’s a stack of Polaroids next to me. My baby sister, spaghetti sauce all over her high chair.The olive green living room, the colonial furniture, my cousins wearing ponchos, a ’65 Chevelle in the driveway. The backyard before the extension on the house, before the deck, before the pool. The stereo cabinet, everyone wearing long dresses to a party, plastic Halloween masks, beehive hairdos and women wearing too much lipstick, with long cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Bell bottoms, peace signs, wide lapels, rotary phones.
There’s my neighborhood the way it used to be; stores that no longer exist, open spaces that are now filled with strip malls, quiet streets now turned into four lane race tracks. Snow like we haven’t seen in ten years, remnants of a tornado on the lawn and hey, I almost forgot about that cement fence in front of the house, and my father’s 1958 pickup truck that spontaneously combusted one night, and how much I was frightened by Santa Claus.
Every photo is a memory. But there’s something about Polaroids that make the memories more special. The feel of the film, the white space, the coloring, the clear recall of the sound the camera made; they are things from another time. They are magic.
[Also today, there's a new (to some) story up at life, after all: she's a pinball wizard]