This past weekend, I read a book by one of my favorite authors of all-time, Maria Semple. She wrote Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which is about the character we named our dog after. And she most recently published Today Will Be Different, which I loved just as much.
You could call this a book review of sorts, but it's not. This is about photos and our stories and how we choose to tell them.
So often, we have a photographer around for the big stuff: the graduations, the birthdays, the weddings. But are those days, those productions, really the story we want to showcase about our lives? Are those days the most significant, the most memorable, or even our happiest?
I wanted to share this excerpt from the book because it resonated with me so deeply, and I thought you all might love it too:
The story of our marriage was in frames all over our apartment: Joe and I riding to the Emmys in the back of a limo. Me surprising Joe during a medical conference Chicago and having someone take our picture in front of Cy Twobly's peonies. (Moments later, Joe asked me to marry him in front of the Bean with a ring he'd grabbed at the museum gift shop.) Our wedding in Violet Parry's backyard in Martha's Vineyard. Giving birth to Timby at the home on Thanksgiving Day, the TV on in the background, the cast of Sunday in the Park with George performing during the Macy's parade. Joe opening the Wallace Surgery Center. Timby's first day of kindergarten.
But standing there in the weak October sun, a different story of our marriage presented itself. It was as if all those years, Joe and I had been followed by a photographer snapping pictures of us unawares...
Joe and me reading quietly in bed, Timby playing Legos at our feet.
Me looking out the window, seeing Joe and Timby below, walking home from the Science Center.
Me standing on the Galer Street lawn in the drizzle, early for pickup.
Yo-Yo snoring in the living room, so loud none of us could sleep.
The three of us sitting on the curb outside Portage Bay waiting for the to call our name for brunch.
That was happiness. Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between. At the time, I hadn't pegged them as being particularly happy. But now, looking back at those phantom snapshots, I'm struck by my calm, my ease, the evident comfort with my life.
So that's all. That's my pitch. Document the moments of your real story: where you're blow-drying your toddlers hair to make them giggle, or making breakfast with a less-than-helpful chef. These moments are the ones where you are most calm, easy, and comfortable—the most you. And then print them and frame them and hang them in your house to remind you that these are the ones that matter.