Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Need for Documentation

When I was in grad school (the first time), Mikael and I broke up for about four months. During this time, I casually started seeing a guy my friend Anna set me up with. We went out as a group the first time, but he and I spent most of the time engrossed in conversation about our shared favorite author - Graham Greene. After that, we would get together every other week or so for a movie or meal. He was cute, funny, and an English teacher at a high school in Detroit. Seemingly perfect for me.

One weekend, Anna came to visit, and the three of us went out for coffee and dessert. Anna is a shutterbug, so at the end of our time together, she wanted us to take some photos. To Anna and I, this is normal practice, but, as we clustered together to take a timed shot in front of the coffee house, J muttered, "I hate documentation." It was such an odd, disgruntled statement. Anna and I glanced at each other, making sure the other also heard what he had just said. We said our goodbyes, and J and I set up a dinner for a week later.

When Anna and I got in the car, we immediately started sharing our exasperation. What was wrong with taking a photo? And why such a jerky statement? We laughed about it for a while, bringing it up from time to time as months went by.

I'm not sure why, but I think of that often. As a writer, who's married to a photographer, documenting my life has never been something I've thought twice about. I also have a horrible memory (something that I wish I could remedy in time for my comprehensive exams next year). So, I rely on old blog posts, journal entries, and many a GB of photos to remind of what has come before.

J and I obviously didn't work out. Not long after this meeting we shared a meal and started talking about politics. And, well, he is the most conservatives of conservatives, even going so far as writing a piece in the Detroit newspaper defending No Child Left Behind and George W. Bush's views on education. After that dinner, neither one of us made the effort to set up another date. But, I still wonder why he hated taking a photo and why documenting your life could be anything less than a nice way of recording your own history.

Today, Mikael and I played hockey in our backyard. Thanks to the Ice Storm of 2011 (and much grooming by Mikael), we have had an ice rink in our yard for two weeks. And, of course, we took a photo to help us remember how awesome it was in the future.


c. elle said...

That J is an interesting bird. I'm glad (in the end) you married a PHOTOGRAPHER. I enjoyed the read. I hope to be enjoying more in the future!

c. elle said...

Ahem, "I enjoyed the read AND hope to be enjoying more in the future." I need meds.