I imagine everyone has this place from before the world was big. Before they stopped to breathe deeply in order to take a moment in. Before they felt, or knew to be, responsible for their life unfolding. I imagine I could tell several chapters of my life from this capture. It is incredible what a photograph can do.
I do not recall this particular day. I cannot tell you whether the sun warmed my toes or if I was cold. I cannot tell you how long I swam for and if I wore floaties. There is no way to know which relatives were there other than my Uncle Carl because Randy belonged to him.
I can tell you that I did not like Randy much. He barked constantly and he rarely sat still. He scared me with how close he always was to my face, snapping away. It surprises me to see him settled so comfortably at the foot of my beach blanket. Have I remembered him all wrong or was this a particularly docile day?
My right foot is bent over my left, and my hand is pressed between the space above my knees, though. These are things I still do when I am sitting comfortably and every night before bed. I’ve also got my bangs and my perplexed face. Slightly bent posture and inquisitive eyes. Legs much longer than the rest of my body.
Some parts of this photograph remain timeless, even though my memory of the particulars of the day have not.
I have found lately that I want to reach for a map of myself to show to others. I want to point at certain landmarks and lines and tell them that this is what happened here and along here. This is a road I never go down. Here is an area I have never visited. Here is a place I went once.
Sometimes I want a single photograph that tells everything so I can easily show someone.
Opening up is hard.
But I could tell you every last memory of this photograph and you still would not be able to smell the fishing lures and the cedar cabin behind me how I am able. You would not be able to know twenty-eight years with the woman in front of and behind the camera. Because not everything can be told with a photograph or a story or a map and maybe it shouldn’t be.
Some things are only ours and it is okay to leave them uncharted.