Tonight, like every Monday night, I’m over at my parents’ house. Which means that tonight, like almost every Monday night, I’m writing on my dad’s computer. My dad is an engineer, and recently added a second monitor to his at-home setup. So when I came into the office before dinner, not really knowing what I was going to write about, but knowing that it had to be done, I was greeted by twice as much screen saver.
My dad’s chosen the screen saver that randomly scrolls through all the photos you have on your computer (as opposed to the one he had when I was a kid, which consisted only of the words “Joe’s Machine” floating around the screen). And since my dad has had this computer for six years now, tonight, the pictures on the screens were giving me a detailed, if occasionally incomprehensible, family history. Some highlights included photos of:
- Various birthdays and holidays, with the whole family, minus my dad or uncle – whoever was taking the picture – gathered at our dining room table.
- Pictures of the house and yard, including the bee invasion we had a few years back. (Thankfully, I was not in the country for this one.)
- My dad with his bike.
- At least three different years of my mom and Martin at diabetes camp.
- My cousin’s high school graduation.
- The week my parents came to visit Doug and me in Seattle; most notably photos from the Redhook Brewery, and of my dad’s friend and his dogs.
- Apartment complexes that I don’t live in – but that my parents had checked out for me before I moved back home last year.
- The knick-knacks on my mom’s kitchen counter (???)
- Beth’s wedding.
Oh, and my wedding.
As I sat and watched the photos fading into each other, I realized that there are a disproportionate amount of shots from my wedding living on this computer. And in them, I saw not only my ex-husband, but my ex-family (his), and some ex-friends (his, and some of mine too), and some friends’ exes. And I thought, Why does my dad keep all these?! It’s like a veritable tribute to things not working out. How depressing.
But of course, as with a car wreck, or a person in ill-fitting clothing, I couldn’t tear myself away. I sat and watched the photos filing by, telling myself that I’d wiggle the mouse after just one more, for a solid ten minutes, until my mom called me in to dinner.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. On the one hand, I can’t believe the photos are there; I can’t believe my dad doesn’t feel weird about occasionally seeing them when he leaves his computer idle for too long. On the other hand, I derived almost a guilty pleasure from looking at them – from staring my young, bridal self in the face, if you will, and owning up to this part of my history. Underneath the initial shock and slight sadness that comes with seeing all those things that didn’t work out, I felt nothing but a calm acceptance, and a resolve that next time, things will be/look/happen differently.
Maybe this is why my dad keeps the pictures, too.