So I had this film camera once. A Pentax K-1000. For my first two years of high school I pretty much took it everywhere. I'd spend hours in the school's developing lab; no matter how many times I washed them, my clothes always still kind of smelled like developer, or fixer. And then one day, I guess I just stopped using it. And I guess one day became five, and then five became ten and then before I knew it, 17 years went by and I found my old camera tucked away in an attic box. Untouched.
I brought it downstairs, and, without saying a word to anyone, sat by an open window. I brought it up to my eye, and pressed the shutter button, not expecting anything. Click. Then I advanced the film lever, and felt the familiar tug of film inside. My heart. There was film inside. Old film.
After we sent it to Richard's to be developed, Thomas and I joked about what might be on that roll. Old crushes. School dances. Field hockey games.
Today we got the email saying our film scans were ready to be downloaded. We were on the road, and I made us pull over on the side of the highway so I could look right away. I couldn't wait to see this crazy expired film. The goofy friends from Freshman year.
When I clicked on the folder, and these images appeared, there was nothing that could have stopped my eyes from welling up.
It was 1996, a tiny maple sugar town in Canada. My sweet, beyond kind, ma tante Claire-Helene. I forgot I even ever took these, and honestly, even as I look at them tonight, I still don't remember.
But I remember her. The way her skin always smelled like baby powder, the way she laughed at all of my silly stories even though she didn't know any English at all. I remember one time she made me scrambled eggs and all of the eggs she cracked had two yokes. I remember a small cuckoo clock right next to her fridge went off just as she was showing me the small double yokes sliding into the bottom of the bowl. I remember the picture of her husband stuck on her fridge. She touched it with her crooked finger tip each time she walked by. I remember she had really awful arthritis, and that's why her fingers were so crooked. I remember she was always making something with her hands. Cross-stitch, or slippers, or tissue box holders that looked like doll houses. I remember one time she laughed so hard that she snorted. I remember she had the finest, softest hairs on her cheeks.
I remember loving her so hard, it hurt.
Tears rolling down my face, it still does.
When I sent this old film out, I never thought I'd get back 17 year old images of her, ma tante, now long gone.
There are zero words in the human language for my overwhelming gratitude.
These images have not been re-touched. I opened them in LR but sat there, frozen. She is perfect. These are perfect. Exactly how they are.