Lots of tears here last night. And once again I was in the middle, copping it from both sides and wanting none of it.
This time ‘though it is the photo albums; the last piece of shared memory to be allocated after 18 years. Not exactly part of the asset division, but the shared record of our time together.
When we packed up the house my daughter wanted to put them with “our stuff”. I insisted that her actions would be seen as provocative and insisted that they sat on his pile. “We can sort this stuff out later,” I remember saying. Now she hits me with, “you told me not to take them! I knew I should have taken them. My whole life is in those albums.”
I see her point but we have been offered a compromise, one that I am prepared to accept. He has copied all of the digital images onto a memory stick and scanned photos that predate his digital camera. We can print them and file them.
But she insists that it was the albums, complete with their floral covers and annotations that she wants. She spent hours looking through them. “What use does he have of pictures of us,” she screams at me through tears of rage and frustration and anguish. “He’ll just put them in some attic like he did with the albums that came before us.”
And she is right. When I moved in with him he boxed albums of his ex wife and their young family and stashed them in the attic.
This is the same argument but dressed differently. This is an, I can get you where it most hurts. I can never win but I can silence you. My inability to see reason and to resolve this with you gives me the power.
The last pictures I took with my Canon camera were taken on a holiday we had not long after we first met. Elena is two and riding a pony with big brown and white spots. She looks at at camera with a coy upwards smile, the ends of her sweet pixie bob poking out under her riding helmet. My Kez is nine. She is playing big sister to his Bree who is eight. His Jem as always, is cocksure on his horse. But at five years old he suffers the humiliation of being led around the arena.
From that time on S took all of the photos: birthdays, parties, dinners, gatherings, my parents, my swims, our friends, his family and his photographic hobby – faces in nature then birds. They are all there in the 10 volumes of photographs that Elena so badly wants.
He says, and I quote exactly from an SMS, “… it was outrageous disbelief that you even imagine that you have any claim at all on the physical photographs I took of my family over all those years. Those are my memories stored of events that I was part of. … It is very upsetting that you want me to part with my history.”
I say, “but they are all photos of us. Of my parents, of my celebrations. Its me running out of the water in my wetsuit. My swimming friends, my children’s birthdays. It’s my history. It’s my life in there.”
Elena says this morning, somewhat more rationally, “My 21st is coming up and I won’t have any pictures for a board of a slide show.”
I have a lump in my throat that is so big it threatens to choke me. I try to distance myself from the photos. They are just images of memories: I still have the memories.
I think about my dad. For years he took slides then photographs. He has boxes and boxes of them. Blind now he can’t see them but when he talks about his life, the images he creates with his words are better than any snap shot.
I will take the memory sticks to Office Works and print the photos. I’ll buy albums and we can sort them chronologically. I won’t let him take the joy from the images and the memories they hold.