I found a one use camera a few years ago during one of the many moves I’ve had to make over the years. When I found it I had a good idea of what was on it, and because it was so soon after a breakup, I decided not to get the film developed because I did not want to wrestle with harsh feelings mixed with good memories.
So I re-found that same camera a few days ago and decided it has been long enough that I can deal with it. I went to the local Wal-Mart, which made a part of my soul die, and took it to the 1-hour photo center. Thinking that my friends would be fashionably late as the usually are, I figured I would have enough time to get them that night. I was pleasantly surprised that they were not late and called me to inform me as such. So I left the film there safe in the knowledge that I could come get the pictures the next day.
That night, while we were celebrating the birthday of my good friends’ wife, we saw many different costumes come wandering through the establishment we chose. From the Mystery Inc. gang, to the mummy, to Robin, to the “Dick in a Box” guys.
Then she walked in.
At first I didn’t recognize her through the thin veil she wore and the black and white makeup on her face, but those eyes and the way she smiles were no mistake… It was my ex. The very same ex-girlfriend that I struggled with seeing in the photographs and here she was live and in undead-like color. I was stunned to see her again after 5 years, especially to see how much she had changed. You see, the reason why I did not recognize her was not because of the makeup and costume, (we used to frequent media and comic conventions and wore costumes frequently, I learned how to recognize someone through makeup and dress) but because she had gained so much weight.
My eyes went wide at the realization and I turned to my friends, (who knew her back then) but they would not believe me until they saw her again. I got up from the couch area we occupied (very Friends-like except dark atmosphere with alcohol) and bolted outside to call my best friend. He had been telling me for months that he had seen her in passing and exclaimed how she looked so different, but I had my doubts until last night. The conversation that followed was not my highest moment as I explained how good it felt to be physically better off than an ex was. He agreed, egging my ill-gotten feelings of elation on.
The night wore on and the high I had diminished with the addition of time, beer, and good laughs.
After work today I went to retrieve my photographs. I had been right in that I knew the context of the pictures. The people that smiled out from the group photo had no idea what pitfalls would befall them so soon after it had been taken. All of the people, save my ex, were lost to me through ridiculous and unimportant politics and one backstabbing that I have not been able to bring myself to forgive yet. My ex and I simply wanted different things with our lives, I wanted (and still do) marriage and children, she wanted neither of those things. A relationship doomed from the start unfortunately.
But looking at this photo she still looked beautiful in her green renaissance dress and long blond hair. I don’t regret the two of us splitting up, it was for the best, but even though it brought back a little of the sting I’m still glad that I have this record of my life. I have so few photographic records of some of the best times I’ve ever had. I have no record of any other relationship. I promised myself after my last relationship that I would have more and evidence than my grandchildren would know what to do with.
Someday soon I will be able to keep that promise.