Faded Photographs: A Moment with Bill Reflection
Opening the Album in My Mind
Faded photographs, triggering a shotgun of memories in my mind. The corners are torn and bent. The colors muted, black and white are now gray, reds and blues bleed into each other, leaving me with shapes and faces but not the vibrancy I remember, as though time has robbed them of their life force.
Dates scribbled on the back along with names and places, all to guard against the inevitable fade to black of human memories. What was his name? Where was that taken? Why were we there? All avoided because we took the time, at the time, to write cheat notes for ourselves and for those who will inherit these albums when we are gone.
The passing of the torch in photographic splendor. Look at the scene, close your eyes and it all comes to life, the years erased as you catapult once more to a time passed. The senses come alive as you remember the sounds, the smells, the touch, and the wonder of it all once again spreads over you like your favorite comforter on a cold winter’s night.
A Time of Youth
The family, all gone now, sitting in a circle of love, smiling, holding hands, enjoying the kinship. Uncle Ike, Mom, Dad, Grandma Chapman and Aunt Viola, with little Billy in the background grinning in gap-toothed splendor, feeling grown up and loving every moment of the reunion.
Me and Smokey, Smokey and me, painting a fence with Dad on a warm summer’s day, then off to play ball, hit it, catch it, chase the orb under the bright sun, the warmth of youth spreading through me, endless days of fun in the sun and no thoughts of them ending, but end they did for Smokey, cancer at thirty-five, the sun faded and the last flyball nestled softly in his glove.
There’s Judy, remember her? Hunting for berries in the field out back, cute sun dress and cuter smile, the promise of beauty in the future, turned out to be a heartbreaking fox but then, a friend, a girl friend, five years old running in the tall grass, playing tag, giggling with frog in hand, blessed are the innocent for they shall inherit all that is good in this world. Where is she now, I wonder? Lost track over time, as so often happens, marriage, loss, triumphs, aches and pains, but at that moment, all was right in our world, forever young.
Bobby and Pete, Jessica and Sharon, now just names but then, comrades in adventure, one for all and all for one, grabbing life by the short hairs and holding on for the ride of our lives. Where did they all go? Whatever happened to them? So important they were, year after year, into adolescence, helping to form me, mold me, support me, the foundations upon which the next fifty years were built.
Karl throws the perfect spiral and the pigskin nestles in my arms, both of us grinning our asses off as the touchdown is scored and immortality is ours. Denny and I at the drive-in in dad’s car, one eye on the movie, one eye on the girls one row down, blond hair under the lights, the warm breeze caressing their teen years, our loins swelling with desire but not yet knowing the key that will unlock the mysteries.
First job at the bowling alley, holding the first paycheck, so proud, thinking about the purchases that paycheck will pay for, records at Woolworths, new jeans from Sears, root beer floats and a new skateboard. That’s me in the baseball uniform, before the big game, pro ball just a few more shutouts away and then the world will be mine, fame, fortune, silly little dreams that were not meant to be but oh, how marvelous they were at the time.
Eva, the first girlfriend, not to be mistaken for a girl friend, two different things, folks, the difference between holding the key and knowing which lock it fits in. She was a Svenska flicka, a Swedish girl, bright-eyed, shy, devoted to me, and she opened doors I never knew existed. No idea where she is now, gone like so many others, but still very much alive within me.
Top down in the Camaro, cruising to the beach, give it a wax job, joke with the comely beauties, hope for the best. Frank is there, joking his ass off, we all laugh like time will never end, but eventually the sun sets on that time, sliding into the horizon as the darkness settles upon us and adulthood approaches.
Rock festivals, Monterrey, Beatles, Cream, Airplane, Who, Hendricks, Joplin, Eagles, life in the fast lane. Swaying as one to the melody, rockin’ it hard, pass out, wake up and do it all over again, but a price must eventually be paid and who knows what the Piper will charge when it all comes due?
College-bound, higher learning, or so we thought, the school of hard knocks waiting for us, but at that time, in that place, far too busy sowing wild oats and growing strong. Protests, sit-ins, peace out, bro, and love one another, the idealism flowing freely and the cost of it all yet to be tallied.
That one there? Yours truly with college degree in hand, a license to make millions and buy up the world. Fell a little short on that one, didn’t you Billy Boy? We turn the pictures and see proof of a working man, an eclectic man, a restless man, going through jobs, women and thrills like they are interchangeable and meaningless.
Standing on top of a mountain, cocksure grin, flexing the muscles, Frank standing nearby, above the tree-line where the peaks kiss the stars, and immortality seems to be within reach. More cars, more women, a marriage, step-children, smiles and laughter at first, a distant longing at last, so many years ago; so many tears ago, divorce in the rearview mirror.
Snowmobiles, ATVs, riding hard, riding fast, no limits, no fear, no damned sense, chase your tail and clueless once you catch it. Whoa, a son, now thirty, standing there in Ninja Turtle outfit, so happy, so proud, so full of love.
Partying with Leo. Partying with Diane. Partying with Alan, Merci, Liz and Skye. Dancing here, drinking there, looking for answers once again. Tip that bottle up and out comes blissful nothingness, but the piper continues to demand his pound of flesh, and the once-bright eyes of hope are now clouded in despair, and that damned camera catches it all.
Surrounded by my first class of students, then another, and another, twenty years of classes, thousands of students, trying to instill what? Knowledge? Wisdom? Experience? The pictures don’t capture success or defeat, just the look of a man determined and the looks of children hopeful as their teacher once was.
Bev and me!
Me and Bev!
Mountains, lakes, on drives, by the river, walking the hills, mugging for the camera, at Yellowstone, at Rainier, on the train, in the car, smiling, always smiling, loving, always loving, happy, always happy, skipping, prancing, cuddling, romancing, supporting, cooperating, understanding…..loving!
Writing, gardening, pondering, the muse, the muse and I, searching for the next word, the perfect paragraph, a touch of immortality, the bolt of lightning, always on the quest.
And what’s this?
What comes next?
Turn the page!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)