Photographs and Memories


I haven’t looked at photos of me and my old travel buddy in a few years. Ever since we parted ways actually.

It was too hard to remember all those good times. To see how close we were and be reminded that it was over.

So I didn’t.

I left the photos on  my iPad and computer but never flipped through them.

Distance always makes things better.

And it did.

Until this weekend when my iPad memory got full and I needed to erase photos to make space for a software update.

Then I tiptoed down memory lane. Revisited Thailand and Shanghai. All these memories flooded back.

Life was different 3 years ago…

It was a time when I thought we’d be friends for life. I never expected it to only last 4 years. But that’s what happened.

It’s all over now.


Photos are so powerful. They summon a moment back into reality.

And it hurt to go there and realize that it’s over. And it can never be again.

That I’m not the same and he’s not the same and we had these amazing moments that can never happen again.

I think sometimes it’s better to not have mementos. To let things slip gently into boxes in the basement of your mind.

For a moment, I thought I should delete all my photos. Wipe them out of existence. Make the forgetting come faster.

But then I saw this gorgeous shot of the ocean. And I was right back there on the beach.

And I found myself smiling. Because those were good moments. Moments I want to hold onto.

Pictures can give you a moment back. They can let you revisit a good time even if it’s long gone.

And I’ll be keeping my photo library. Just not on my iPad.


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34 Responses to Photographs and Memories

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    My grandmother never liked looking at old photos or family videos. She said it made her too sad to see everything she’d been through, especially the older she got since she couldn’t have it again. At the time I thought that was weird, but as I get older, I understand it better. But old photos show us who we were at different times, and that’s probably too important of a concept to delete. 🙂

    • Carrie, I’ve always been big on taking pictures. Capturing moments. But it’s true as you get older and those moments can’t be again, it’s hard to have reminders. But you are 100% right–we need to be reminded of who were were and what we had and who we loved even if it didn’t last. 🙂

  2. Kourtney, this is such a profound truth.. We each have those moments which are enhanced even more by the vivid recall of a photograph.. I guess we all have them and revisiting them can often be tinged with various emotions that are brought back to bring us either pain or joy as we look and think back..

    You have though turned your reunion with these photo’s back on themselves, and reviewed them with the fondness not the pain of parting.. We are given people and places in our lives for reasons.. they come and they go… But each come into our lives for a purpose, a reason..I have learnt over time to be grateful for the good times… and focus upon them…

    Happy to know that is just what you are doing..
    Love and Blessings
    Sue xox

  3. Jamie Dedes says:

    However painful or disappointing, these experiences help to make us who we are and are valuable in that respect as well. I’m glad you are keeping the photos, Kourtney. Bravo!

  4. Kourtney, I love photographs of old boyfriends. I know things will never be the same, but I love looking back to “those days.” There is one old love, however. All the photographs of him, I cut his head off. He caused me a great deal of pain. so much so, that after we broke up, I would see him from time to time and he would try to talk to me and I would just stare at him and no words would come out. So he deserves to have his head cut off.

  5. Lori D says:

    Those past moments make us who we are in today’s moments. You don’t have to look back at them, but sometimes old hurts remind us we’re human, we’re alive, and we are love. Despite how anything turns out, love is a good thing. Hurt shows that we are capable of deep love, and despite the consequences of loss, love is the ultimate. Just thinking out loud. Hugs.

    • Lori D says:

      P.S. If you get a chance, come on over to my blog and help me with my post “I feel like a Pitch.” 🙂

    • Very true. Unfortunately, I did have to look back on them. I had to clear space off my iPad to download a software upgrade so I had to go through and select individuals pictures to delete. Kind of a forced walk down memory lane for me because images summon back all the emotions. Love is a great and powerful thing. But what it leaves in its wake can be overshadowing. In time, I’ll come to appreciate what was and be okay with it not being again. Eventually. 🙂 Hugs.

  6. Very moving, Kourtney. Moving on, letting go, are two of THE hardest things in the world! But memories don’t have to be toxic, or painful… you can decide to just see how beautiful the ocean was. 😉

    • Thanks. I definitely agree. For me, photos and mementos are major triggers. I can’t just see the ocean. I go back to the moment the picture was taken. It’s almost like I get sucked through time for a few moments. But maybe in another 5-10 years it will just be another pretty picture. 🙂

  7. diannegray says:

    I know what it;s like to look at those old photos Kourtney, but the memories and feelings we get from them make great writing fodder (yes – I’m a glass half full person). Even photos taken at times that were not that great and bring back bad memories can be used in our writing. They stir up emotions long forgotten.

  8. EllaDee says:

    It interesting how people deal with these stages of the past. I have no idea how I’d react to a found cache of photos. I was intrigued to learn how you felt, as I mostly “tidy up” as I go along, but occasionally a person-pic from the past comes up… an my response has been “water under the bridge”. Occasionally I find a memory and/or person connected with the past comes to mind as a story, and it’s refreshing to consider them from that perspective and no emotional effect 🙂

    • I think it depends on how things end with a person. If there is a betrayal, those photos will always hurt. If a friendship ran its course or was a conscious uncoupling, it’s much easier to revisit the memories. I also tend to have a visceral reaction to mementos and photos. They summon everything right back to the surface.

  9. jmmcdowell says:

    There are some photos and souvenirs that I let go and sometimes wish I had back. Others I may not even remember now that they’re gone. The human experience seems to require letting some people slip away intentionally and losing others no matter how much we want them to stay. Some of those experiences become writing fodder, but I suspect all of us keep some to ourselves for life for a variety of personal reasons.

    But all those experiences make us who we are today. If we’ve learned from them and are better/smarter for them, then hopefully we can remember the good in them and help ease the pain and anger that might remain.

    • Some items no longer summon a memory. They’ve lost that ability. Now it’s just a seashell from some beach. Yes. It’s a weird thing. Some stay locked deep inside. Some do make their way to a creative outlet. 🙂

      They do. ANd to erase an event is to erase a part of who we are. Beautifully said JM.

  10. I’ve always found it difficult to come to terms with those friendships that are of their time – wonderful while they last but destined not to go on forever, so I can understand your feelings. Good philosophy from JM. Interesting what we can’t let go of. My mother died four years ago and I have lots of mementoes in the loft that I didn’t want to let go of then, but now I feel a need to clear some of them out – as you say, some no longer summon the memories.

    • It’s very hard. Especially if they ended quickly or badly. I agree, JM has some sage words there. 🙂 I think we hold on until we can let go. And that’s just part of the process of grieving.

  11. Some mementos make me sad, and I have put them away in a box. I knew that if I threw them away I’d regret it. Those mementos are a part of my life, but I found that I was holding on to those memories too much and not paying enough attention to what is going on today. So, I had to find the balance. I’m glad you made the decision to keep your photo library.

    • I have those items too. 🙂 Sometimes we need to take them out of our line of sight and let them rest in a box. You’re right it’s about finding that balance of what to keep and what to put away and what to throw out. 🙂

  12. Aquileana says:

    What a powerful post dear Kourt… I really liked the way you write about past and memories… Photos are so powerful. They summon a moment back into reality.

    “For a moment, I thought I should delete all my photos. Wipe them out of existence. Make the forgetting come faster.

    But then I saw this gorgeous shot of the ocean. And I was right back there on the beach”…

    You left me dreaming with eyes wide open… Water passes by and so does time… But the ocean is pretty much the same at the end.

    Much love, Aquileana 😀

    • Thanks Aquileana. I was really swept up in the emotions those pictures summoned up. I’m glad I captured it well in words. It was such a simple thing and yet it provoked so much internally.

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