When we first moved to the United States, my family was sponsored by a small church in North Carolina. We got by off of donations and support from the elderly members of the congregation. I still distinctly remember our first Christmas. It was just our family sitting in our little kerosene heated house, and I tore into the wrapping of my gift, unveiling a new friend, a teddy bear who I immediately hugged. Times were simple then, my mother learning how to can beets from our American “Grandma” and my father working at the textile mill. Random things like gathering bamboo shoots behind the high school, teaching my mother how to tie shoelaces, finding firewood, getting 3 Musketeers bars from my father—I remember a lot of that, even without the aid of photographs.
The title of this entry, I got from a Tony Sly song, and it really resonates with me. “…I love you plain and simple but it’s sad…all we want, is what we had…”
I guess you can interpret that in so many ways, and the holidays and end of the year always makes for a contemplative season. The times and places where I frequent now, I don’t think people dare say the dreaded four letter word–poor. I know we struggled growing up, and that stigma still sticks and haunts me to this day. I don’t know of many working 20 somethings that would even consider toiling in the professions of our parents or the places we grew up. But you know, we got by. No one starved, and everyone still had clothing to keep us warm while waiting for the school bus. In comparison, the riches that we have now would probably make our past selves jump for joy. But in 2013 we still look for the next toy or material possession. I know I’m guilty of that.
When I look to the past it’s not because I just can’t let go, or that the times were really that good, it’s just that I’d like to think the memorable times were of the things that just happened. Without planning, without large airfares or budgets. No expensive presents. Just friendships, when the universe allowed our timelines and life strings to intertwine for just a little bit. One justification I have for always taking pictures and buying the cameras that become my paintbrushes is that I just know in the future, when more troubles get in the way of normal life, it’s a still frame, a simple photo that will get me through the cold days.