Condensing a Life

I have lived in the house that I am in for 19 years. For a kid who grew up going to a new school every year until the fourth grade, this has been the longest I have ever lived anywhere.  My husband and I raised a child in this home.  We also work here, running our photography business out of a separate section of the house.  What that means is that we’ve done a lot of living in this house and with that comes the accumulation of “stuff”.

When you live the kind of life I do, always moving forward with new projects and exploring the world, you don’t realize what a past you’ve had until you begin the process of getting rid of things you no longer need.  That’s what I have been doing recently, sorting through years worth of “stuff” and tossing what I don’t need anymore.

I spent the day yesterday, taking on just one small corner of my office, going through folders that contained everything from old stock photo delivery memos, caption information for dozens of destinations, financial information, old contact info, lists of goals and good intentions and LOTS of correspondence.

And that’s where I got totally sidetracked from my mission, looking through almost 20 years of correspondence.  There were many letters from a friend who died long ago.  My friend had also been a mentor to me, and his letters were thoughtful, insightful and full of encouragement. I suppose I have kept those letters all these years to remind me of where I was at during that time in my life.

There were plenty of other letters and note cards from people who have been part of my life, including a card from my daughter withErin+Paris at the beach 1995 Happy Birthday Mommy a crayon drawing inside that she had made.  It brought back of vivid memory of when I had received it.  It was my birthday and I had been on a very long assignment, shooting in France, and as great as that sounds, (and it was) it was also hard because I missed my family terribly.

It was a bittersweet experience, going through decades of correspondence, but I’m grateful that I kept some of it.  It was like tangible evidence of chapters of my life and it somehow felt more real than my electronic archives do.  And so, while I spent hours shredding documents, feeling like I was in the movie Argo, there’s just some things I’m not quite ready to let go of. For now those tangible memoirs will stay in that corner of the office until the next edit.

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2 thoughts on “Condensing a Life

  1. Lindsay Deery May 29, 2013 / 7:22 pm

    Gail,
    Please let me know if you ever come across your Gayleen Aiken photo. I’d love to buy a print from you! Thanks for making wonderful and inspiring art!

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