This particular topic is HUGE. Vast. I might do another journal prompt with just this image and word again, because beginning is so critical to progression. But today's prompt brought back a story I want to tell. (Or retell, I've put bits and pieces here and there through the years).
I joined the Design Team of the Chatterbox paper company in the summer of 2005. Just before Christmas that year, we were each given an unusual assignment. (Chatterbox was always a company that reached at the heart of scrapbooking - the why as much as the how).
The Assignment: Intentions
Here's our assignment, in two steps:
- Think of something that you've always intended to do in scrapbooking, but just haven't, and then DO THAT THING.
- Create a project about what we did, and our experience.
My Take: Ruined Wedding Photos
I thought for a little while of what project I could do, and one morning (December 23, 2005, I remember it clearly), I woke up knowing EXACTLY what I needed to do.
Backstory. Insert wavy transition and backstory music. "It all began...."
Jared and I got married on June 16, 2000. That was 15 years ago, as of just a couple weeks. He's the man of my dreams and the love of my life. And it was our great honor to be married in the Mt. Timpanogos LDS temple by my dear sweet grandfather, Seth Bills.
I LOVE my grandparents. They were (and are) two of the Great Trees of my life, and I grew up in their shade right next door. My wedding was a perfect day. My reception the next day in my grandparents' backyard was a perfect Idaho summer evening. Cloudless and warm and golden as the sun set among their beautiful trees and flowers. If you have never been to southeast Idaho in the summer, you really need to go. It is absolutely GORGEOUS. Just be sure to get out before October when Father Winter slams the door again. ;)
Fast forward, and in July 2000 I am living in Minnesota, when I received both prints AND NEGATIVES from our photographer (a thing I still consider to be the best part of this miracle). I wasn't a scrapbooker then (it would be four more years, when Rowen was born), but I wanted to put the pictures someplace special. I bought a really great album with these cool lumpy handmade pressed-cotton pages. Very organic, very cool. Totally not acid-free. Totally water-absorbent. See where this is going? I adhered the photos to the pages with some random combination of photo corners and glue and thought to myself that I'd done a pretty bang-up job of the thing. Well, then I left the album sitting on top of our little bookcase beside the sliding glass door. Our tiny apartment had only a small air-conditioning unit, so we spent most of the (wet, hot, humid) Minnesota summer and fall with that sliding door open.
Fast-forward to spring-ish of 2001 when I pulled out the album again and opened (tried to open) pressed-cotton pages pages soaked with four months of humidity and rain. Most of them were stuck together with water damage, and ALL of my wedding photos were ruined. I cried. I shook my fist at Minnesota. I probably stormed around a bit.
And then I remembered I had the negatives! I could just get them (all 300 of them) reprinted. Any time I wanted. And anytime never seemed to come.
I intended a few times to get the photos reprinted. I thought about it quite a few times over the next FOUR YEARS at least, and I actually ventured into Walgreen's one day sometime in early 2004 and asked the clerk what it would take to reprint them. Obviously this person didn't want to do the job, so they said, "Why don't you wait until the prints go on sale?" I left with my envelope of negatives, and TRUE CONFESSION TIME they proceeded to ride around in the armrest of my car for the next year and a half. I know. I still cringe to tell it. I completely forgot about the negatives to my ruined wedding photos for another long time.
My Project: Getting Wedding Photos Reprinted
Fast-forward back to December 23, 2005. So it has been FIVE YEARS, right? I have two bitty babies now. I wake up with a start KNOWING what I need to do for my Chatterbox assignment and I have this urgent feeling that I really NEED to get these reprints done. Today. Right now. Get your intention done, you lazy thing! What have you been waiting for?
It was a Friday. I took the negatives down to Sam's Club, which was literally a half-mile from our new townhome, determined this time not to take no for an answer and not to leave until I had figured out how to get my little travel-worn envelope of negatives back out to life again. I said to the clerk at the photo counter: "What would it take for me to get these 300 wedding photos reprinted?" The clerk took the envelope from me without batting an eye and said, "How about 24 hours?" Kind of embarrassingly easy, huh?
The next day (Christmas Eve, 2005) I went back and picked up my 300 reprints. I couldn't believe it! I spent a great Christmas weekend going through all my photos, relishing the memories of that beautiful occasion. I tasted my life again in all the golden glory that a union of two souls SHOULD be. I saw family and friends from back home, back in what had now become another life, and I cried for the happiness of seeing them again, remembering those relationships.
Just in Time: The Only Two Photos
A week later, on the afternoon of December 30, 2005, I received a phone call from my dad, that his father, my sweet Grandpa Bills, had passed away suddenly in his sleep the night before. I was devastated. I was even more heartbroken that because of distance and our two small children, I could not attend his funeral. I felt so lost and alone in the wintry darkness of Minnesota, wanting so much to be with my family in Idaho, to pay my respects, hug my Grandma, and remember and celebrate the life of this great and faithful man. I was so sorrowful and low, and so desperately sad that I can still taste all those tears.
That night after I'd gotten my babies in bed, I suddenly remembered that among the 300 reprints I had JUST received back, were two photos of me and my Grandpa on my wedding day. They are the only two photos I have of he and I together. Here they are.
My night was then spent blogging - reminiscing about the things I remembered about him. Was it my own personal vigil? My private memorial? Maybe. My tears didn't disappear - how could they? But they had turned from desolation to a kind of warm bittersweetness that reached down into my heart and gave me peace.
And I do believe that it was the Intentions Challenge that inspired me - and placed that invitation in front of me to do the thing I'd been intending to do for so long, so that I could have these photos in my hands, just in time.
I learned that night in a way that has shaped my soul, that photos (while always important) can sometimes suddenly become the most precious things we own. Photos, and the stories that accompany them--only increase in value as time goes on. They bind us to our past, help us remember who and what we are, and give us strength and courage to face our days ahead.
THIS is why I scrapbook. THIS is why I always have my camera out. Why I will always teach memory-keeping. Why I will always make it my life's priority to savor and save. And why I will always cry two times over these two amazing, incalculably precious photos.
And it's why I'm offering this prompt to you today. What is it that you've intended to do in memory-keeping, that you haven't done? What is it that springs to mind when you hear the word BEGIN associated with what you need to do as you savor and save?
Check and double check? Let me know right here what your intention is, and then you can come back and tell me what you did about it, I'd love to hear! We can keep each other honest. ;)