“How do you open this darn thing? I can never remember.”
Someone finds the button, and the black box pops open into an odd wedged shape.
“There! Is there film in it?”
“Dunno. Take a picture and find out.”
“Oh, alright. You girls, stand over there! By the hearth.”
With a bit of jostling, the girls obediently shuffle into place and assume the pose: arms wrapped around one another in a display of sisterly love. They look toward the camera and smile.
They spread their grins even wider.
Snap. Flash. Hiss.
The camera spits out a white-bordered card with a milky greenish-brown square in the center. The photo hangs where it exited, just short of falling to the ground. The picture taker dislodges the print and sets in on the coffee table.
“There! Let’s see what we’ve got.”
We circle around the table and watch as ghostlike images begin to rise from the murky Polaroid. Soon we can make out the features of the girls, and as the photo continues to develop, we see that one of the girls’ eyes were closed when the picture was snapped. Oh, well.
The print is a bit blurry, too dark, and the subjects are not framed properly. Typical. Someone notes the date on the wide bottom border, and there it is: a posed moment in time that documents a birthday, holiday, new dresses, or maybe just the changes from year to year as the girls grow and mature.
The captured moment goes in a shoebox where many others have been collected, and it turns into another memory to be pulled out and sorted and enjoyed for years to come.
It is shared by passing it from hand to hand. It is cropped with scissors if one wishes, but that’s not likely to happen. The highlights are enhanced by tilting the photo toward the nearest window or lamp, and the image is sharpened by adjusting one’s bifocals into better focus.
I sift through my shoebox now and again — probably more often than the girls realize — and the photos always make me smile.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t trade my Polaroids for all the Photoshopping in the world.
The photos above were most likely taken by a variety of relatives. Unfortunately I cannot assign individual credits.
The Daily Post Discover Challenge: Transcript