Memories of an old friend come flooding back while sorting through old photographs. 1095w
by Theresa Tintori
At that particular moment, she couldn’t have told you what made her go into her closet and take down that old box. Maybe it was the accumulation of quiet evenings spent all alone. Maybe she was looking for something that could fill the end of the day without expending any energy. Maybe she thought it was a good way to try to escape the permeating melancholy that invaded her life since her ex-boyfriend moved out.
She didn't have more than a sigh left as far as feelings for that relationship. It was over and done, she thought, as she hefted the box up, carried it out of the closet, and set it on her old worktable in the extra room. She stood over it and opened the flaps. Reaching in, she drew out a handful of snapshots and held them in her hand while settling down into the chair at the table. Looking at the picture on the top, she moved it to her other hand and put it down as she did the same with the next photo and the next. Soon there was a small pile of photos on the table.
It had been ages since she went through these old photographs. They were thrown into the box with no rhyme or reason. There was no order to the chaotic assortment and as she finished looking through one handful, she would reach in and get another mix of pictures. There she was at four years old in this one and then another when she was fifteen and older. Her mother shoved the box in her arms when she moved away from home. Her mom insisted she take them with her.
She progressed through a good measure of pictures and randomly stacked them on the table. She went in to get another handful and stopped to stare at the one that appeared on the top. There were two people in the picture and she was one of them. She grinned as she realized she was eighteen in the picture.
She saw the simple county fair and remembered how she spent the day riding the Ferris wheel and eating cotton candy with her best friend, Gayle.They planned it together as a childish escape for the now grown two young women.They went through the fairgrounds trying their luck at stuffed animals and alternating being silly and girlish, to serious and sophisticated when any good-looking boy happened along within their sight.
They became such close friends and were inseparable from the time they met freshman year of high school. They shared all their secrets and talked for hours on the phone in the evenings even though they spent the entire day at school together. It was that way with them the entire time. It was always easy, fun, and simple.
She kept thinking of Gayle as she stared down at herself in the picture. It was so long ago, yet at that moment it didn't seem so. She wondered what might be going on with Gayle now after so long a time. She knew she would need to find her old friend and see if they couldn't talk and catch up. They were such good friends. They did everything with each other.
She decided at that moment she would make that call and talk to Gayle again. She knew it had been a long time but as close as they had been she knew they needed to re-connect. Somehow, something made her take that box down at this particular time and find that snapshot.
She sat at her worktable and smiled as she stared at the picture.There she was, all of eighteen grinning from ear to ear alongside some boy she didn't even remember meeting that day. Her only memories now were of the fun and easy times she spent with her best friend, Gayle, who wasn't even in the picture. Gayle just happened to bring along her camera to take that photo so long ago.
It was two days later and twenty minutes into their phone call when Gayle said, “I can’t believe you’ve called me. I’ve actually been thinking about you. What made you look me up?”
“I was going through an old box of photos.”
Gayle laughed. “Photos! No. Really?” She was shaking her head at the phone. “You know, I’m a photographer now and I have an exhibit of my pictures currently at the McKayne Art Gallery.”
Gayle didn’t just happen to bring along her camera that day so long ago but had a driving interest and went on to become a very accomplished photographer. The two friends quickly became reacquainted and met for coffee, drinks after work, and shared the detailed circumstances in each of their broken relationships since Gayle had also just ended one of her own. The amount of similarities in their lives was uncanny and the thought never crossed anyone’s mind that a lonely evening sorting old photographs would bring this pair back together again. Yet this photo seemed to do just that.
When she finally went to the gallery to see Gayle’s exhibit, she knew it would be something she would enjoy and no doubt the photos would be very good. She wandered the length of the area with a growing sense of pride as her eyes glanced and lingered at one picture, then the next. There was a particular cluster of photographs arranged together with one that made her stop and stare as she tugged at the strap of her shoulder bag. The entire exhibit was a retrospective collection of various county fairs, carnivals, and fairgrounds and she was staring at the very same picture she herself had so recently found. What was it, about this photo, to make Gayle use it for the exhibit just a short while before she took down that box to find the same snapshot?
She stood a long while looking at the photo thinking maybe there was some kind of outside power at work. Maybe there was something about the photo that linked the two friends and caused them to get back together again. Maybe it was the memory of happy times that the photo represented that made such an impression on them both. Maybe it was all coincidence.
Whatever it might be, did it really matter? She lifted one shoulder in a shrug because she already knew what was really important and without any hesitation, she pulled out her phone to talk to her friend, Gayle.