Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Day in Polaroid

Summer reminds me of Polaroids. When I was a kid I spent a lot of summers at Grandma Ruby's and in the slow, sticky summer Missourri heat, there wasn't much to do besides loll around in the plastic kiddie pool drinking kool-aid. Somewhere in the background I can hear my aunt Retha humming to herself, flitting around Grandma's garden like a busy worker bee snapping Polaroids. That distinctive whirring of film being spit out is punctuated by the catydids and the stillness of the air. I wonder what's so fascinating about Grandma's garden that warrants so many pictures. "Kayanna, come look at my pretty pictures." I relunctantly leave the semi-cool water of the pool and trudge over to see the little mountain of polaroids. Retha grins and points, so proud of her little gallery. They're no materpieces and in fact far from perfect. A finger half obscures one, Grandma is hunched over weeding the lettuce in another, her head missing, another showcases blurry flowers, and there's me, lounging in my bright blue pool. As a kid I didn't appreciate what these pictures meant, what they stood for. But now, as an adult looking back I'm amazed at how my aunt was able to see such beauty in such mundane things, how she could slow time down and see the world for what it really is. I desperately wish I could go back and look through that stack of polaroids again through adult eyes, I wish I could appreciate her telling me to "Hold still and 'Say Cheese'" every summer with that camera so proudly draped around her neck. It makes me so sad to think that in a year no one will be able to have these memories of impulsive, imperfect pictures that have more soul and more life than any digital version. So, for the next year, or until it truly is gone, I'm going to take some time each week to slow down and take things in at Polaroid speed.

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