I cry when scrolling through family photo albums
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
I absolutely love going through stuff at my parent's house. Every room is basically a museum - a historical account of our lives, childhood, memories...
Anywhere you look, there is history. I walk into the kitchen and see a mug with a tiger figure on it and the tiger's tail twists up to make the mug's unique handle. This was super cool in 1998 when I received it as one of the new year's gifts, marking my birth year - the year of the tiger. The mug gave me joy for the whole year. Can you imagine this in 2020? I have been noticing that with the increase of stuff we can afford, the length of joy this stuff brings is decreasing.
I look at the walls and see my childhood drawings and paintings. I open any drawer and objects that exude memories are looking at me. Sometimes it's fun to find these objects. Other times it's painful and the drawer gets shut. One of my all-time favourite activities though is going through the old family albums. They are just magical. Everything about them is fantastic - the way they feel, the way they smell and the stories they store and, sometimes, tell.
Those velvet-covered Soviet albums were made to last. Each one is like an ancient fairytale book. There is my dad's army album, it is red in colour. Oh, there is the oldest album, it contains photos of my grandparents and relatives that are long gone - the cover is white. Ah, and here is my album, "our child" is written on its grey cover in golden letters. I am the fifth child, my album has a few colour images even!
I look at these photos and each one of them is like an art form. People did not have the luxury to take hundreds of photos per event. My father acquired some film cameras and we would take photos on special occasions on that 36 frame film. One film roll could be sitting inside the camera for a whole year before we would take the last shot and the magic of black room photo printing would begin. My father would prepare all the chemicals in the tiny bathroom of our Soviet apartment. We would walk in, lights off - mysterious atmosphere. My father seemed like a magician to me. He would project an image on the photo paper and then submerge it in the developing liquid - the photo would slowly start appearing on the blank surface. Tongs. Next container, this time with the fixating liquid. Tongs again. String, pin, and hanging to dry.
Age and nostalgia are best friends, I know. Maybe because I recently became a father myself, maybe because I just had another birthday, maybe both, I am becoming nostalgic. But I think that's ok. It is ok to love your childhood and long for it. It is ok to live in the sweet illusion that the sky was bluer and the kids were nicer. That's my sweet myth, my memory, my sacred chamber. The future is not known to us and sadly is becoming more and more terrifying for each new generation. All we have is now. Enjoy it. Build good memories.