I walk a lot these days and so I tend to find things. Not quite in the same way as my patron Bob does. He's constantly finding stuff..tools, coins, and yesterday even a wallet full of ID. But then again he walks hard everyday, puts in lots of miles, really racks it up. Me, most of the stuff I come across is common everyday trash. All too much trash. To some folks the world is a mobile garbage heap. But today I was coming home and off to the side of the sidewalk, almost buried in the high spring grass but not quite, was a photograph. Had to have that photograph.
Knowing that quite a few photos of mine have been scattered by the seven winds I had to pick that one up, study it a bit. I was a sepia toned shot of a matron with two kids. The woman is definitely a Latina, judged not only by her facial characteristics and skin tone but also by the costuming and the looks of the kids. What got to me more than anything else was that that woman was dressed up in bridal array. She had the veil up and over her head, but the rest of her gown was a dead giveaway that it was a wedding day photo. Pearls, flowers, shy beatitude, pure unmitigated happiness.
The girls..were they relatives? Her children? Her sisters? Nieces, cousins, kids of the same? I want to ask that gal some questions...was the day a good time? Did everyone show? Did you have a band, a catered reception? Was it held in a hall, or like my cousin Sonny, was it held in the backyard of some good natured relative, or maybe in your own backyard? Are you happy now? Heaven forbid, are you still married?
I found that photo and I think of all things I've found over the years by the side of the road...screwdrivers, a silver wedding band, a few quarters and once a small bottle of Jack Daniels..and know that things just find their way out of car windows or from under hoods of cars. Roll off car roofs. Get tossed. But that photo. Where are the rest of them? What about the rest of that day? What about the rest of her life, the moments in between that Mona Lisa smile and the rest of her adventure called life? Why was that photo sitting there off to the side of road? Was it a slip up? Was it a case of not liking it and tossing it out the window like my Estranged One used to do with the mobile Polaroids I used to shoot of her? Was it the case of some thieving types that came across her car or a household load of things that they had to unload and that stretch of the highway was where that one particular photo happened to land?
I know that it is not impossible to find folks these days. If I had a digital camera or a scanner I could shoot and post that photo but then again maybe the totemic magic of that shot is in the mystery that it provides. Maybe some day I will be standing in line at Saars or Safeway or wandering around the farmer's market or just be out there, in the aisles of some second hand or rummaging around at some garage sale and I will look up and she will be there. What could I possibly say to her? Hello? Haven't we met somewhere before? Or, "hey, I found a photo of you off the corner of Tremont and Sidney. How was the wedding? Are you happy? Sure looked like it in the picture..."
One way or the other that photo is now part of my life. Right now it's sitting in front of me on my computer. Later on I'll post it on my fridge, maybe even frame it. Make that mystery trio part of my family, part of the journey that we all take in this life, and that is a wandering amongst strangers, strangers who sometimes in the end become more important than kin or blood relatives ever hope to be.
Ah, to the lessons that my father taught me.
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