Mems, not memes

My friends, this is a photo album. It’s what you put pictures in after you actually get them printed off your cell phone.

Anyone else remember flipping through family photo albums? It seems since the development of smart phones it has rapidly become a thing of the past.

I can remember my own family’s brown, fake leather albums. They held court in our living room book shelves where they sat for months, unattended, waiting for someone to reach in and liberate them from their wooden prison.

Every once in a while as a kid, and later as a teen, after succumbing to boredome, I would resort to flipping through their musty plastic-smelling pages.

Each sleeve holds expressive faces and blurry mid-movement shenanigans. Something about actually looking at the pictures, feeling the slick plastic of the pages between my fingers, and the occasional puff of musty picture air as I turned pages, would trigger the memory bells inside. And just like that I could remember exact events surrounding that picture of myself barefoot outside, playing the violin in my Sunday clothes.

Suddenly I am taken back to that muggy Tennessee summer evening. I can hear the cicadas and smell the water on asphalt from my mother watering the numerous gardens she kept.

Cell phone photos and social media albums don’t trigger that for me. The appeal isn’t there. Perhaps it’s the physical act of sitting cross legged on the floor surrounded by days gone by. Perhaps it’s simply the hands-on experience.

Eventually our albums were replaced with beautiful and elaborate scrapbooks. My mother was known to spend hours on one page. They’re treasures that she proudly bestowed upon us when we moved out and began our own families. I myself have tried and failed at scrapbooking. While I know it’s a lovely way to preserve ones memories, I simply have no desire or drive to do it. But I want desperately  for my children to have albums to flip through when they’re home on college weekends. I want to us to reminisce and giggle about those dodgy family vacations, that beautiful birthday cake, the funny face Nora made that one night on the lawn mower.

I worry with the onset of technology we are losing this valuable family tradition. So I’ve begun a new tradition for my family. Once a week I will empty my phone of all its pictures and print them out. I already have one album full!

Memories are treasures, and if I had the choice of a fat bank account or a fat memory bank….I would choose memory banks every time.


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