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Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. –George Eliot, Middlemarch

I carried an undeveloped roll of film with me, through moves to no less than 11 houses and apartments, for at least 12 years.

I had shot it with a cheap hand-me-down Vivitar camera, for which I had never owned the flash attachment, before I went away to college. It was the first and last time I ever used the camera. There were shots of my dogs and of my favorite haunts. As much as I was interested in photography, I was painfully aware of how little subject matter I had. No travels, no close friends, lonely solitary hobbies like reading and cross-stitch. Pocket money was stashed away in hopes of a time when things would be different, so there was no cash to spare for processing photos that might not even turn out.

As you may know, the next decade was a frantic series of attempts to change, to grow, to learn, to travel, to make friends. Money got shorter than ever as I took on massive debts to make these things happen. Somehow the roll of film was always packed in the office supply box for each move I made, across town and across country. Both of the dogs photographed on the film died.

It seemed more impossible than ever to develop this film. It would hurt too much, I told myself. And who knows if it even took in the first place?

I had a vague knowledge that film expires, turns red like the glow of a memory. Finally, two years after my last move, 6 years after my beloved American pit bull terrier died, 3 years after my last international travel (my honeymoon), it felt as though the time had arrived to see what this film would look like. In some ways I am poorer and lonelier than ever, and even less accomplished at hobbies and less mentally alert than I was at 19, but I have the strength to survive a look at anything these days. Even a portrait of the sad little self I still carry inside me.

I developed the film this past weekend. With the exception of a few frames decayed beyond recognition, I think they came out rather well.

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Post Author: polyarchivist