Say Cheese! You’ll Be Thankful Later


taking photosEarlier this year, one of my childhood friends passed away. He was 5 years younger than me, so it’s not like we were best buds, but when you grow up in a community as I did, you wind up with a whole lot of extended family. There was a time when it felt like a whole slew of us were inseparable. Even though we weren’t necessarily close in the past number of years and life has taken many of us in different directions, there’s an inexplicable bond that we all had.   

When he sadly passed after a long illness, I started jogging my memory for the good times of which there were plenty. Others posted old photos from our childhood on Facebook. I searched for pictures and while I did find some, I only found a handful. Why don’t I have more? It bothered me that there was so much that I didn’t remember. If I only had more photos.  

Memories Fade, But Pictures Last a Lifetime

Today it’s so easy to snap a picture, but remember the times when we had to work for our documented memories?  

  • First things first – you actually had to remember to bring the camera and lug it around.
  • Prior to digital, we had to load and reload the film – and ensure that you had enough film to capture the event.   
  • But you could not take a million and one shots of someone or something – cause you’d run out of film. Film is money!
  • Dropping off the film at the store to get them developed. It usually took a few days before they were ready and the surprise of not knowing exactly how the pictures would come out.   
  • Remember scoring free doubles? Winning! It once resulted in a rift in my college sorority, as I was the Historian (aka scrapbook maker/keeper and picture snapper) and I had the nerve to keep the doubles. I did have to schlep to KMart to drop off the film AND schlep back to go get the pictures. Two trips back and forth on the campus buses!  Give a girl a break. 
  • Speaking of – Remember the Fotomat stands?
  • Keeping the negatives just in case you wanted to develop any of the photos again. And then holding them up to the light to try to make out which picture was which. 

In the year 2000, I had a roll of film that had photos from a friend’s wedding and a trip to Montreal that didn’t develop. 20 years later it still stings. It’s a pleasure that we no longer need to work up a “to-do” list and pray to the gods just to get a photo!

Every Picture Tells a Story

Why was I longing for more pictures? Those who know me know that I have a bit of a sentimental mentality (forgive me – I’m a Pisces, therefore it’s completely innate!) and photos have always been special to me. Nothing fancy or professional. And I’m not a scenery person – for me, it is all about the people. Even if they aren’t a big part of my life now or if the relationship was short-lived or even minuscule, they are a piece of me and a part of my story. 

When a childhood friend passes away, it makes you reflect in so many ways. First, so much sadness for him and his loved ones. Second, thoughts of our mortality and how fast time flies. Then comes the reminiscing. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but we had the best childhood.   

Sometimes bad memories have a way of hanging out at the forefront of our brains – photos remind us that more often than not, the positives of our existence outweigh the negatives.  I wish I did have more pictures to remind me of that. If only I had more photos playing in the sandbox as kids, our beach club days, or just hanging around the neighborhood. 

I simply lived many a day way before we had a camera phone at our disposal. Fast forward a few decades to the brilliance and ease of the camera on our cell phones. Because who goes anywhere without their phones, right?

I’m not saying to snap so much that you forget to live in the moment. Please, please, please enjoy what you’re doing! There’s a huge balance because you want to actually live the life captured in those pictures! Yet to be able to pull out a photo years later to jog your memory of that fun party you attended or your little one’s first smiles, is priceless. 

Naturally, some photos may bring forth moments that we’d prefer not to remember. Those are tough. On occasion, a photo brings on pangs of sadness. Maybe a sighting of folks in our lives that have passed. This sadness often stems from love, so it’s surely a bittersweet sight. Yet, I adore how photos are documentation of our story and our lives. They show what our actions and experiences were. Who we’ve met. Who we interacted with. And who has stuck around all these years! Photos lead us down our own visual path and shows us how we got here

Pictures can remind you of how far you’ve come and even represent a point in time that resulted in a positive change that directed us towards our passion.

To the children out there – humor us if – okay “when” – we ask you to smile or pose. We love you SO much and want to capture it all. Yes, we’re annoying. We nudge. Maybe even beg and plead a bit. Trust me when I say that – in about 30 years you will adore these photos with sheer nostalgia – or if nothing else, hilarity. The clothes you are wearing – how many times do you look at old photos and think, “I can’t believe my mother dressed me in this!” Or the hairdo you’re sporting? Come ‘on – the ’80s hair? How high can you go?

This picture here is from my sister’s birthday party from the mid to late ’70s. Besides my sister and I, pictured is my dad, my grandparents, my aunt, and my uncle. I assume my mother is the one behind the camera. But check out those glass soda bottles! The tub of Breakstone brand butter – 40+ years later and it’s not even all that different. The 70s wallpaper. Who didn’t have that green Tupperware bowl? The 1890 French Dressing bottle – do they even sell that anymore? 

Personally I can look through old photos for hours. I regret not having a few more of my friend who passed. Similar to how a song can bring on a blast of nostalgia a picture can do the same. 

Photos pay an important role in our endearing memories, remembrance of the past, the recollection of fun, and the souvenir of loving times. Say cheese – sans duck face, I beg you, you’ll be grateful later.

RIP, my old friend.
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Melissa Jacobowitz is a Bronx native who moved to Westchester County after she and her high school sweetheart got hitched in 1997. She and her husband live in Mount Kisco with their son Corey (b 2004) and daughter Mia (b 2007). Melissa spent many years working in Human Resources and currently works in enrollment and marketing for a child care organization. Melissa is a two-time survivor of Postpartum OCD. Melissa initially became interested in writing to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, but has discovered that writing is a newfound aspect of her life that she thoroughly enjoys. She was also a contributing writer with Suburban Misfit Mom and you can find her stories at Melissa is also a featured writer in the book “A Dark Secret,” which is a compilation of where 15 women share their stories of maternal mental illness from diagnosis to recovery. Melissa is excited to write with the Westchester County Mom team and hopes that you’ll enjoy her stories of the trials and tribulations of a born-n-raised city girl raising a teenagers growing up here in Westchester.