Looking through old photographs is like wading through cold pockets in a lake, or the fabled sensation of encountering a ghost and walking through the cold shock of its invisible, intangible body. You remember a time when that moment, the moment whose record you are witnessing, was the present, when everything pertaining to that moment, all of the details of feeling and circumstance, were what was happening to you NOW, and the amorphous future of which you were afraid had not yet become what it is to the version of yourself looking at the photograph. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this, but to me it’s fucking weird. I remember wearing my flowered baseball cap and walking to the bus stop from my job on Canotek road. Not just remember – I was JUST THERE. It’s unnerving. I was JUST in a dorm room with my face pressed against the window, watching the snow fall outside. I was JUST in love and hopeful and moving into a place with hardwood floors and a tree that bloomed white blossoms in the middle of September. I was JUST wearing my hair in French braids and performing at Academic Hall in the full heat of the summer, standing onstage opposite a brave and frightened man. J. gave me a beautifully lifelike stuffed toy of a pig, and a card congratulating me. I remember the air conditioning only worked inside the auditorium, and hauling the set pieces through the lobby to the stage was tiring and made us all sweaty.  I remember Mary Jane did my makeup and made me far prettier than I had any right to be.

I think you get it. Needless to say, it’s weird. It’s surreal to lose pieces of your life, to have them fall out of your pockets when you’re not looking and when you finally turn around you realized you’ve walked so far away from them that the substance of them – the feel of someone’s skin or lips, the incredible fear before an act of vulnerability, the face you saw in the mirror on that day, at that moment- is gone.

Now I am small and still and blending into the background like a doll on a shelf.

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I'm a former student of English literature, an editor and a creative writer who has been attempting to live with body dysmorphic disorder as well as severe anxiety and a recent diagnosis of Bipolar II. I believe that struggles with mental health are often lifelong and people in these situations need comfort, support and occasional moments of peace granted to them in order to survive.

3 thoughts on “2017”

  1. I was just having this experience today. Not about photographs, but with memories themselves. I was thinking back to when I lived in a different place, sitting on a different deck. But, like a photograph, it was only a fragment of an experience. I tried to play connect the dots—connect this incomplete memory from that time with this other one from about the same time—but I didn’t get very far with it.
    This was a good piece. Thanks for posting so many interesting reflections.


    1. I think it makes me upset that we live in a linear fashion, though this seems like a fairly simple thing to have to accept. How do you come to terms with the loss of the past – not only the literal loss, but also the loss of memories/sensations, etc.


      1. It is a hard thing to accept once you start thinking about it. We do live in a linear fashion. But also, we don’t exactly. All kinds of stuff is going on in our minds at the same time as our life is going on. Memoriea, daydreams, fantasies etc. All are part of our conscious awareness.
        Memories seem to start to fade just as they are being made. Even if you stop and recall a cherished memory, what is that experience, really? How can you keep it clear? If you don’t revisit it, does it fade faster? Maybe it is only the effort to cherish them that makes them seem like they are fading away.


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