It used to be something of an obsession. “What was I doing around this time X years ago?” I’d ask before opening up my journal for that month some years earlier and reading to see what happened. Yet what if I’d had a way to thumb through pictures the way I thumbed through my journal entries? For most of my life, I had about as much interest in photography as I had in basket weaving. Then I moved to Poland. And a couple of years after returning to the States, I moved back to Poland, then armed with a digital camera. And so I can open up a photo viewer and easily look over my shoulder.
September 2001: I’d just moved back, and I was still taking daily walks in the fields behind the house where I rented a room. Such pictures now seem almost unreal: did I really live there?
September 2002: The fascination remained. I was still talking almost daily walks in the fields, heading up to a small patch of trees known to locals as “Cats’ Castle”, watching the sunset from various locations, impressed that the church was visible from almost every point in the central part of the village.
And then an empty year. Did my computer crash? Did I not take many pictures? Whatever the cause, September 2003 is void of pictures.
September 2004: K and I had just gotten married. We’d brought all our lovely wedding gifts — the glass paintings and various prints — to my apartment which was then our apartment. We looked through pictures of our wedding and spent lovely afternoons creating photo albums.
September 2005: Back to the States, to Asheville. “This is where I want to live,” K said the moment she saw the small town surrounded by mountains. It was understandable: it looked so much like her own home. And have a few lovely parks about didn’t hurt either.
September 2006: The Girl was just a few months away. We’d heard all the stories, but who can really p-prepare for how a child is going to change one’s life?
September 2007: The Girl was with us, and already showing her precocious nature. She sat only to roll; she crawled only to crash; she lived only to giggle and fuss.
September 2008: L, able to walk, began asserting her independence. The innocence would surely linger?
September 2009: Independence increased.
September 2010: We learned quickly that owning a house is owning a project. A never-ending, always-bank-account-draining, eternally-exhausting project.
September 2011: Where did that baby go? Certainly she’s somewhere around here?
September 2012: If I could have glanced forward in time from 2001, surely a wife, two children, a house, and a cat on a tired Wednesday night would seem just as unrealistic as the fields of Lipnica Wielka seem to me now?