A few months ago I started what seemed like the interminable task of uploading thousands of photos from my old Macbook to Google Drive. I finally finished last night and felt relief – I could finally (in an environmentally friendly manner) get rid of my dying, outdated Macbook.
Did I just spend hours moving my photos from one digital graveyard to another?
For the most part, I trust my memory. But clicking through old photos helps unearth the things you probably would tuck away and all but forget: did I really dress like that? Whatever happened to that person? Where are they now? Do they randomly look through their old photos and see my face too?
And even more recent photos stir up similar questions: Did I really move to New York three years ago? That first fall, how many times did I walk through Central Park while talking to Tom, who was in London? Has it really been six months since we’ve moved in together in Hell’s Kitchen?
The photos in this post are not quite so old – taken just two months ago around Christmastime last year, but I’m looking ahead a few years to when I stumble across these photos and pause.
I was twenty-nine and unemployed. (I still am.) I had the time to spend an hour in a laundromat around the corner from our apartment, waiting for some bathroom and kitchen linens to be washed and dried. I checked my email many times for job replies, then browsed the laundromat’s small but curiously stocked “Free Book Exchange” (among them: The End of Poverty and How to Talk To Anyone) and eventually eavesdropped the laundress’s marathon phone conversation, trying to pick out Spanish words I knew, until I realized there was no phone and she was talking to herself to pass the time.
I can evoke the undercurrent of anxiety I felt that afternoon – hell, I felt it that entire season and even more acutely now. But I’m aware that moments like this, in which a jobless but somewhat ambitious young woman, looking for something worthwhile to do with her time and energy, ends up doing something completely mundane – these moments in their quiet simplicity: no kids, no mortgages, no hospitals, no job except to look for one – will become rare.
Looking through other photos from this same winter and reading accompanying light-hearted blogposts (many written while abroad, on “vacation”), it sounds dishonest even to me to say that these photos taken on a weekday afternoon at the corner laundromat represent much of my internal zeitgeist through these winter months. But I think that’s what I was trying to capture – as well as an amateur photographer can.