Thursday, August 30, 2012

What did people do before digital cameras?

One of the many items on my ever growing to-do list is to clean up my computer.  As in go through and delete unnecessary files. This proves to be a daily struggle because I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to my digital life.  For example, I have 14,616 songs in my iTunes library.  How in the world did I ever come to have forty days worth of music?  iPhoto contains 10, 868 photos.  I know I really like to go on adventures and all, but seriously? My mission to delete anything, however is transforming to be an overwhelming marathon down memory lane.  It's pretty impressive that I walked away from both middle and high school with a phenomenal group of friends, some of whom I currently live with, based solely on the "cool factor" these photos depict.  This doesn't even begin to draw on the age before digicams, and my two memory boxes full of actual prints that I had to purge through when my parents moved out of my childhood home a year ago.  Just to give you an idea of what a winner I was:

... just kidding.  I was going to post my personal favorite gem from my 16th birthday, but then I remembered: this is the internet.  I've watched enough Law & Order to know that data never fully disappears from the internet.  You'll just have to trust me that it was atrocious.

One of my favorite benefits of the age of digital cameras is the sheer number of photos we are able to take and keep without having to pay for shoddy, blurry, out of focus prints that missed the intended subject completely.
This photo, for instance, was taken from the roof of a dorm at NYU overlooking 5th Av of which my then friends and I illegally snuck onto. Sounds cool, sure, but I've taken far better versions of the photo and still, this one stays in the library.  

I still can't delete those ones from my iPhoto library, even though they essentially depict nothing.  The thing is, however, that I remember, distinctly, almost every moment before I pushed the shutter button, even when the result was a blur.  What is it about that action that simultaneously logs that moment in my brain.  Does everyone else experience this phenomenon too?

The funny thing about memories, at least for me, is how random they are.  Some moments of my life I can relive as if it's happening this very moment.  Others, no matter how often other people remind of, it's like they happened to somebody else. For instance, the first five years of my life, I lived in Atlanta, Georgia and I remember none of it.  Every time I have a flash of a memory that I believe to be from those years, my mom tells me that no, it's actually from Kansas, where we moved after my alleged southern years.  Now, I know what you are all thinking, that I was adopted and have suppressed all memories from my early childhood.  I too would believe that theory save the fact I look almost identical to my brother, and share a very distinct nose (and personality) with my father.  I digress.  I just find it incredibly intriguing which moments the mind decides to hold onto and which ones it decides to throw away.  I love that due to a digital camera, I can idly flip through thousands of photos on my hard drive and relive some terrible angles, questionable outfits, and beyond unflattering haircuts.  Hopefully, I've figured out how to put the whole package together with a little more grace, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a few years down the line, I'm going to look at photos taken from these moments in my life and think, "Really, Morgan? Get your act together."

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