Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Every picture tells a story

"There was lots of music around town." a friend told me yesterday about the holiday's entertainment in Jerusalem.


"You usually know what's going on." She seemed surprised at my ignorance. "What happened?"

I don't know what happened this year. Maybe my entertainment radar had gone on the blink. Maybe it was a combination of not having a succah built. Maybe it was having to grovel for money owing my husband from his clients so that I can buy a bus ticket into town. Maybe it was my kids getting angry at me for borrowing food money from them. Maybe it was the frustrated tone in my daughter's voice when I asked her to borrow the car for a local trip in the neighborhood, which would have taken me 1 1/2 hours round trip, had I taken two buses or had I walked.

I went to the parade, I went to a friend's home for coffee, I went to a debtors anonymous meeting that was long overdue for me. But nothing else. I cooked and shopped and cooked and shopped. It was getting tedious.

I had 100 things listed on my To Do list, because I'd have the time on my 8 days off for the holiday. Only one item got done.

I managed to organize all the loose photographs lying unorganizedly around and put them into those tiny photo albums that the photo shops give away to customers who bother printing out photos these days. Almost all are neatly stored away in albums now. Labeled albums. It took me one full day to do it. And these photographs prompted so many memories of a seemingly easier life in Canada. It's all in my head, this easier life, of course. I have pictures of lakes, streams, rivers and beaches and beautiful grassy backyards of Toronto suburbs. I remind myself that we couldn't afford a house or summer away in cottage country or even to buy ourselves a home of our own in Thornhill. Hubby tells me average mortgages are $4,000 these days. It makes my own mortgage of $1,250 much easier to fathom. But life in Canada did seem easier and less anxiety ridden. We seemed to have everything we needed back then.

I sift through the photos and linger on the memory of a particular one.

I looked at photos of me pregnant with my first child, some hideous "frummy" (ultra-orthodox) 'uniforms' of wide skirts and baggy tops that I can't believe I allowed myself to wear, and of a recent photo of me dozing off while holding my sleeping grandson. I grimace at another photo of me and a newly formed double chin. And I was thankful that not all photographs of me show me with this ridiculous looking turkey chin.

I have photos of my daughters' ex-boyfriends. My soldier daughter tells me to throw out the now-embarrassing-to-her photos of her ex-boyfriend. I just throw out the ones of him alone. I keep the ones with him and her together. I made the mistake of throwing out photos of ex-boyfriends when I got engaged and never forgave myself for the missed memories. I told her I'll keep them just for her, if she ever wants a glance 20 years down the road of her life's history and on days like this, with more time on your hands than is necessary, this would be a good memory jolter for her - and she could daydream the day away of the easier life she once had.


Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

Are you going a little mad??

jerusalemgypsy said...

Sure! Doesn't everybody at some point?