Drunk with paella. Numb from the noise. Early December and an early Christmas lunch. It was late in the afternoon and a lull had finally settled over the house. The cousins were spread out on the couch, on the floor. One of them pulled out an old box. There was nothing special about this box. Just a plain, old shoe box; dusty and grey. She opened the box. I moved a little closer to look. Inside were old photos. She had found them at her dad’s place. These old photos were faded, torn and starting to peel. They smelled like old moth balls and dust. They were real photos. The kind my aunty would have taken on her 35mm and then waited till she finished the Kodak roll to have them developed, probably at the local chemist.
The photos were of me. They were of me and my cousins. We were on holiday together. We were all very young in the photos; some of us still babies. My mum and aunties looked so young, fresh and vibrant. Sun kissed skin, permed hair, thin and glowing. At first glance, I didn’t recognise who these women were. Time has changed those same women, faded them, more than the photos themselves.
I had lost the memory that was captured in these photos. The photos I was looking at were images I would pin, yet my memory had let them go. I had forgotten the summer’s. I had forgotten the reason these photos were taken in the first place.
The summers of the 1980’s. My parents were living the life I mirror now. Together with my aunties and uncles they would plan a trip every summer. A family holiday. We would all pile into our cars and drive for a few hours to spend a few weeks together. Glorious summer holidays spent together. Fishing, swimming, cooking, long walks and late nights under the stars. I remembered my sister and me sleeping in the back of Dad’s Kingswood on the way home from a trip up to Albury, and how great that was. These photos were from those trips. These trips were gone.
I wanted to dive back into them. I wanted to dive back into the deep set sepia nostalgia. Seeing those photos awakened something in me. It had been too long. In that moment, the words tumbled out of my mouth. I couldn’t stop them. Everyone looked at me. What was I about to begin?