Each summer I undertake an opus...a totally different kind of major project than the ones I wrestle with during the fall, winter and spring.
It's a photo opus.
There is no small amount of anticipatory dread that accompanies this project. You see, I LOVE to take pictures. And, as fate would have it, I have two very willing subjects (and one who has asked never to be featured in my social media stream).
Each year, around this time, I start shuffling through the thousands (yes, thousands!!!) of pictures I've accumulated over the last 365 days.
It's a different kind of editing than I'm used to, and one that seems infinitely more taxing than the slicing and dicing of words variety.
The end product makes my closest friends mutter things under their breath about their own untamed digital photo wilderness.
It makes my children cuddle up next to each other in the living room and ponder the passing of the year (note to self: should probably photograph that). And it makes the person whose photo never appears in my social media stream, smile.
The second two items on that list would be enough of a reason to convince me to finish my yearly dreaded project. But this year, as I sort, click and question why I took 100+ pictures of Child #1 dancing around the Maypole, I realized the real impetus behind my need to complete a teeth-grinding, sanity-questioning type task.
It's an exercise in memory preservation.
When I think back to my own crystal clear moments of childhood, I realize the reason they feel fresh and new like crisp, clean sheets is because often, somewhere there's a photo of the moment.
That doesn't mean the photo stands in for the memory.
It's actually the opposite. The photo is like an entry point to a memory that might otherwise be consigned to that inaccessible brain place where forgotten memories are stored.
My dreaded summer project, the one I put off as long as possible is important because it's my family's pictographic history, like the etchings we scratch on the walls of our modern cave.
They might not tell the whole story, but they're the key that will hopefully unlock all the memories, both good and bad, of young lives that morph into adulthood in the blink of an eye.