Sunday, July 16, 2006

My life in pictures

Photo: A scrapbook page.

My current project has been to put all the photos I pulled out of old photo albums (photos were exposed to the acid of the sticky pages) into new scrapbooks. I now have a scrapbook of my years in Ethiopia, and all my school years up to my marriage. I am now working on my early married years.

Going through old photos is something like looking at someone else’s life. Was that me? Young, beautiful even?

Back then I always compared myself unfavorably to the long and lean California beauties, and here I was, long, but more padded. I was 5’10 and weighed 145 and felt fat because I didn’t weigh 130 like the 5’10 Miss America contestants.

I look at photos of sweetie and myself and remember our good times, our getting-to-know-each-other years, the early financial struggles. All of these times I knew I was loved, that we loved each other, that giving it all up was not a consideration.

Sometimes, however, especially around age 28-30, I was in extreme despair about how my life and marriage was going. I knew that my sweetie did not really understand me, and apparently never really would. I knew I would keep on, but I didn’t think it would be fun. We couldn’t talk about some of the deeper things without becoming emotionally involved to the point where discussion was impossible. Sex was a chore those years.

During that time we moved, leaving good friends behind. I started a job, the kids started school, our farm lost lots of money, and sweetie worked 5 different jobs. I started menopause, and only learned after it was all over why I’d been such an emotional mess for a couple years. I’d blamed it on everything else. Sweetie was critical of my housekeeping, the way I dressed, how out of shape I was (now a flabby 135 lbs). I wrote despairing diary entries that I hoped he wouldn’t (or maybe would) find.

But he changed, and I changed.

When he started admiring me for everything I did, it made all the difference. He called me the most beautiful woman in the world, he said I was the love of his life. He still teased, sometimes insensitively, but it didn’t have the bite it formerly had. I could walk by him and feel the pull of the pheromones. It hadn’t been like that for years. Lust within marriage! What fun!

I was glad I’d stuck it out, glad that divorce had never been an option for us.

Oh, back to the topic at hand. . .I am filtering out some of the photos, discarding them. That is hard, like throwing away pieces of my life. But when you have multiples poses at one event, you really don’t need all of them to jog your memory.

On a more mundane, practical level, I’ve learned to love the 8x8 scrapbook. Most of my other scrapbooks are 12x12, and they are a lot more work. I like to have a theme or event on one page, but if you only have one photo of an event, that means you are challenged with combining it with some other compatible event, or just using the one photo and filling in the rest of the page with journaling and embellishments, or scanning the photo and enlarging it, or etc. An 8x8 album doesn’t bring up so many decisions and challenges. I made a 20-page 8x8 scrapbook of my Virgin Island trip in two days. It takes me two to four hours per page in the 12x12 size.

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