I am of the generation who has seen the way we store our memories evolve radically.
When I was a young child, when I wanted to know what I was like as a baby, down from a safe shelf
would come the albums, full of black and white photos, carefully mounted to the pages with fragile
black paper adhesive corners. These were images that substituted for remembrance. They themselves
became proxy memories. Today, if I look at these pictures, I remember only looking at these pictures.
Later came the movie camera and the slide projector. With these, my past could be viewed in color.
Because of this, or more certainly because I was older, I remembered being the “me” in the image. Yes
that snowstorm. Yes that sled. Yes that Dad.
The sled is gone. The Dad is gone. Even the snowstorms, as we knew them, are gone.
Gone also are the slide carousels, the portable screen kept in the back of a closet, and the film
projector lamp too dangerously hot to get close to. These were memories that burned. But in those
days, no sound. The early Sixties allowed only the technology available fifty years earlier. We had faces,
then. (But not voices).
Then, suddenly in rapid succession, reel-to-reel tape, cassette tapes, Super 8 film. Betamax, video
recorders and VCRs. Digital media. MP3. Live feeds. SKYPE. Downloads. Instagram. The Cloud. We are
now more in touch, more available, more easily than ever before.
But what about with our vanished selves? Or our vanished loved ones?
On that long ago snowy day, as my father dragged that sled tirelessly up that hill, it looks clearly to
be a labor of love.
Or maybe he was chasing a memory of himself as a little boy on a sled.
I would have liked to know.