Friday, May 20, 2011

I Put Your Picture Away, Sat Down and Cried Today...

Front of my jewelry box
Whenever I go to someone's place, I love looking at pictures they have on display. I love asking people about the stories behind the pictures and seeing their faces light up when they talk about the people they love. I've been known to pull out a photo album or two at a party, and Hart and I had a great time showing our friends at Wine Club our photos from Bonnaroo last year. I realized after the fact that what we had actually done was the modern equivalent of a the oft-mocked "look at all these slide pictures of our vacation" gathering. Wow, I guess we got old somewhere along the way. I kind of like that.

Anyway, I love pictures, but I'm not always good at doing things with them.  Like a lot of people, I take pictures, they go onto my computer and possibly on Facebook, and then I never get around to printing or framing any of them. I have loads of photos that I intend to eventually get into scapbooks. When I moved to Austin, though, I realized I'd have a chance to change that. 

Inside my jewelry box -- how did I ever live without this thing?!
I desperately wanted pictures up so my new place would feel more like home, and also I wanted to atone for years of laziness in that regard (the jewelry box mentioned and shown in this post sat unhung for years in our basement in Iowa). I knew having pictures up would help me feel connected to my loved ones in Iowa as well. Finally, I was inspired by others, including the boyfriend and Kristine (my bestie in Iowa). They both have lots of pictures of friends and family on display, and I really like that.

Grouping of family photos
I got right to work on this task, and I put up framed arrangements (like the one shown, made up of family portraits), photos stuck to the fridge with magnets, and put some snapshots into frames. I went through all my pictures (which is quite a high number!) to pick out pictures to fill various multi-photo frames. For my Mexican-themed guest bedroom, I chose only pictures taken in Mexico. I also wanted to make sure I had pictures of all those who mean the most to me. I've got pictures of Brian, my family, Brian's family (who are like my own family), friends from Iowa, and friends from Texas. 

Mexico pictures
Recently, I decided it was time for me to put up some pictures of my boyfriend, "Antonio" (I'm going back to his assumed name on the blog; my friends and family know his actual name). I went through my computer and found all the pictures of us together - there were actually quite a few, including some from last summer, when we first started spending time together. I ordered 2 sets of all of them and picked out a couple frames, then got to work framing pictures -- a frame holding 3 of us for him, and the same for me (but different pictures, so we can see different ones when we visit each other).

I also picked out a few pictures to cut down to size for my jewelry box frame and another multi-picture frame I have displayed. I realized that by putting pictures of us up in existing frames that I would have to remove other pictures. It only made sense to take down pictures of Brian, as there were so many of him or us. So many, in fact, that a trusted male friend once told me my apartment was like a shrine to him. I explained to my friend that I look at the pictures on my wall as a photographic representation of the good things in my life -- the people, places, and events that have been interwoven to form the fabric of my life. To declare that there are "too many" good memories involving Brian would be to deny my past, my story, my very life. We filled our lives with good times and good people, and I can enjoy that without being stuck there.

In that vein, I decided it was time to do some updating so I could include some more recent memories and so I that I could also look every day at the face of the man who makes me smile now. I picked out some favorite shots and put them up alongside favorites of my cats, family members, and of Brian and me. Antonio was very happy to receive the framed pictures I gave him, and to be included in my photo displays around my place too. I explained to him that I hoped he didn't mind all the pictures of Brian -- I know it's weird for a person to have a frame that includes pictures of her with her boyfriend alongside pictures of her and her husband. I told him that as time went on, I'd keep updating pictures to reflect more recent memories and new friends, but would also keep some of old times up, and that I'd always have at least one picture of Brian up (right now, I probably still have somewhere between a dozen and twenty). He, true to character and history, took it in stride and I could tell he was being truthful when he said the pictures of Brian didn't bother him at all. He seemed to be honored to occupy room in my frames alongside my other loved ones.

I had been thinking I needed to do this for a long time, and wanted to make sure to do so by last weekend, which is when Antonio came into town and we celebrated the one-year anniversary of when we first met. I think knowing this was going to happen was what prompted a couple of my recent bad days. Knowing that I am moving forward and making new memories, creating a new life, is exciting and fills me with great joy. However, it also is necessarily another acknowledgment that my life with Brian is over, and that that chapter of my life has closed.

Here's hoping the next chapter brings great joy and that there are plenty of pictures on the pages ahead!

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