Sometimes when I’m doing something other than riding around looking at stuff and taking pictures – I wonder what riding around looking at stuff and taking pictures is really all about. Why are there 4,000 photos on my iPhone? Why do I take pictures of inanimate objects like buildings, wall murals, old barns, fiberglass dragons? What’s the point of it all? It’s a one way relationship, there is no exchange. This “thing,” whatever it is, gives something to me and then I go on my way.
Recently I was in Jeffersonville, New York. While there, I snapped a photo of a barely legible sign. I can’t tell you specifically what it was that made me swing a U-ey to get a better look at the building. In the course of a day, you can pass dozens of similar places. But something about it’s red, white and blue facade and the whisper of lettering said come back, come and see me.
When I got home, I wasn’t quite sure of the town name that the building was in but I knew roughly the area. And so I pulled it up on Google Maps. The current streetview is from May 2009 and shows a much bolder sign. The letters were clearly visible. One day, even the Google streetview will be updated and the way things were will be one step closer to being erased from our minds.
What I realized this morning is that maybe one of my jobs is to be a witness. To be a witness to time, to carry memories, to say I saw this, or I saw you, or maybe this is how things once were. I like the idea that I can be a bank of memories. I love giving myself permission to think that what I do isn’t entirely frivolous or silly after all. I am a memory keeper. Now that is an important job.