The haunting has me going through my photo archives. It’s just too easy to keep every digital photograph. It isn’t like you have to lug them around (though, to be fair, I have every negative and I lug those around) and what does the storage really cost? Four GB here or there doesn’t make much difference. The trouble, however, with the hoarder’s mentality (it might come in handy at some point later on) is that when you’ve got photographs in the tens of thousands, they lose their meaning. You just can’t get far enough into any one batch of photos to have it count for something.
The rational response is to cull. Which I’m doing.
Unfortunately, the territory is littered with little memory-bombs. There’s a photo from my sister’s wedding. The official photographer was trying to get the entire family lined up, and someone took a picture from the side. Whoever it was happened to be on the end of the family arrangement where my ex husband and I were standing, and captured the photographic evidence.
He really loved me.
We were married. This shouldn’t come as such a surprise, but it does. I also have photographs of the envelope he used to send me the signed divorce papers going up in flames. At a certain point, it just isn’t healthy to focus on the good stuff. No one wants to spend the rest of their lives pining over what might have been. Pushing ten years since he moved out, frankly I don’t think about him much at all. My niece was saying that she doesn’t even remember what he looked like, so I decided it would be a good idea to see if I could find a photo. I came across his linkedin photo and was demonically gleeful that he’s chubbed up considerably and I’m *finally* hotter than he is. I used to fear running into him on the street in some freak accident. Not anymore.
The end of Tropic Thunder also helped. You know the part where Tom Cruise dances around like a doofus? My ex danced exactly like that. I’m not much of a dancer (a statement that is a legitimate contender for understatement of the year) so the fact that he could find the rhythm and stick with it impressed me unduly.
Aside from that wicked and unkind smugness over the reversal of physical fortunes, I honestly don’t think about him at all. Might as well have happened to someone else. The house we owned is now theoretical. What I remember most, even from when we were married, are the times I was alone. Fair enough, I was alone a lot.
So it comes as a surprise to find evidence that we were happy. He genuinely loved me. I genuinely loved him. And from that angle, it is a complete mystery to me how we ended up at a place where I have to work to remember why it was that he once felt as necessary as oxygen to my existence. An effort that produces nothing concrete. I truly thought there would be a him-shaped hole in me forever. And now there’s this picture of him kissing the back of my head while I smile at the antics of various and assorted related children and it’s pretty much a bafflement.
He really loved me. Isn’t that odd.