Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I arrived back in Malawi last Tuesday, no worse for wear after the 2-day trip. I am back in my big townhouse, which is cold and lonely, not just because of the absence of my son’s happy squeals and babbles, but also because it is really, literally, cold. July and August are winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and typically the only two months of the year I ever get to wear a sweater.

So Jorge has absconded with my precious little Milo, and it’s very sad being here on my own. To fill the time, I have occupied myself with Projects. Projects used to be my life before I had a baby. My wedding was a Project. Photography and travel are Projects. I like binders and daily targets and color-coding. My current Projects are: 1) getting my butt in shape after consuming an average of 1,000 excess calories a day in New Orleans, 2) finally finishing “War and Peace”, and 3) finishing up editing the 1,000 or so of my mother’s slides that I scanned last summer in Seattle.

I’m making good progress on all three so far. I reckon I have about 250 more slides to edit, then of course I have to figure out in which order they should go, which will not be an easy task. Right now I’m working on the photos my mom took when we took our trip to Europe in 1987, our Grand Tour so to speak. Most of my childhood vacations were spent in the back on the Plymouth Volare (see photo) or in tents, and this was our big trip. Dad saved up money and vacation days for years, and mom took on her own major Project of planning the trip. I remember she mailed off to tourism offices and received hundreds of glossy brochures in the mail, which she would spread out all around her, finding hotels, plotting itineraries.

(The Volare - no doubt it had overheated again and that's why I'm sitting on the ground in the cold.)

It paid off – I still have such wonderful memories of that trip, and I believe it was the only 2-month stretch of my childhood where I did not bite, hit, or scream at my sisters. We were having too much fun to fight.

Now when I look back at those pictures, though, what strikes me is just how much love went into planning that trip, taking those photos, organizing them all into slide shows… The same way my love for my son seems to channel through my camera lens, I bet my mom was thinking that she loved us when she took these photos:

(Dad on a gondola in Venice)

(I put this one in just so you could mock my sister's outfit with me. Check out those shorts! And she accessorized it with a snazzy necklace! Mwahaha!)

(Me on my 10th birthday, in front of the Matterhorn)
Granted, there are a lot of duds in the slides, too. Mom was fond of landscapes, what we called her "Rocks, Trees, and Water" photos. What was she thinking when she snapped this one, for example?

But I scan, and edit, and restore all of them. It is my way of saying “Mom, I trust your judgment. If you thought this picture was worth taking, then I think it’s worth saving.” As I remove each speck of dust and brighten each color, it’s a long-delayed way for me to get to say “I love you too.”


Shannon said...

Very touching, Gwyn.

Amanda said...

You've made me cry.

Tina said...

Love the pics!!!