I have always been a very sentimental person. I hate goodbyes, and I hate change. I don’t like the feeling of nostalgia, and I have this never-ending fear that I am going to forget moments that I don’t appreciate enough. When I was younger, nothing made me sadder than the lyric that said “please don’t take my sunshine away,” and I was always the kid who cried on the last day of school. So being a senior in high school has been particularly hard for me because I worried about all the endings before the beginning. It just seemed like everything was going to be its “last.”
I started doing everything I could to make sure I remembered things. I started keeping a journal and I began printing out lots and lots of pictures. I have a wall full of them in my room, and a bulletin board filled with ones from each month of the year. Each picture has its own little story behind it, and I can remember all the events that surrounded the picture. I remember the laughter of my family, and the yelling of my friends. I can hear the classic chants of White Plains sports fans, and my music from dance competitions. Photographs seem to freeze time, and some of my favorite memories are encapsulated in those frozen positions. I even started using those disposable cameras (which my mom makes fun of me for) because there is something more authentic about them. I also started taking photography in school, actual photography, like black and white film photography. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized how special photographs really are.
Within the past two weeks, CVS lost one of my disposable cameras and I completely ripped a roll of exposed film I had taken for photography class. I was devastated because it felt as though I had lost those moments forever. They were lost somewhere in space and time, and I was never going to get them back. I was never going to get back those photos from my last fall spirit week of high school, as Tropical Tuesday and Color Wars would just have to live in my brain, and I was never going to get back those photos from morning football with the boys. I realized every moment is actually a “once in a lifetime” thing. Photographs have an extraordinary capability to capture those “once in a lifetime” moments, allowing us to keep them forever. Yeah, I know pictures can’t replace our actual memories, as we obviously remember other moments in life, but there is something special about how they are proof of those moments in time.
I have always had trouble grappling with the idea that sometimes things are meant to stay in those moments. I have always been the “and they lived happily ever after” type of girl; the type of stories where everything works out and everyone stays in each other’s lives forever, have always been my favorites. But sometimes experiences and people and places are only in your life for as long as they need to be. I remember going to see the movie La La Land, and not to spoil it, but the lovebirds played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone don’t end up together in the end. My mom knew I hated the ending, and tried to explain to me that life is filled with moments of time. In the grand scheme of things, they only needed each other for that specific part in their life. The hopeless romantic part of me never got over that, but over time I realized she was right. As much as we all want some moments to last forever, they wouldn’t be as special if they never ended.
So maybe photographs are extraordinary because they preserve those moments that we want to last forever, or maybe they just allow me to avoid saying “goodbye” to experiences and people. But it’s also important to realize that sometimes moments aren’t meant to last forever. You shouldn’t have to fake putting on the Prom corsage, just so you can have a picture of it, and those family get-togethers would be just as special if Aunt Sally didn’t need a picture of her perfect Thanksgiving table. It’s not the end of the world if your phone dies before taking a picture of your “almost” graduate, and your 10-year-old son is most likely going to win another football game. So as my aunt used to tell me, “The world is your oyster,” and sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy the moment.
Of course, this is all coming from someone who finds comfort in the wonderful predictability of Hallmark movies, and who will probably go print out more pictures for her wall later, but every once in a while we all need a reminder that some things don’t need to literally last forever.
Anastasia Meininger, aka “Offbeat Rhythms”, is a high school student in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. She lives with her parents and older brother, and her life is filled with her hilarious and loving Italian, Irish, Greek, and German family, as well as her wonderfully crazy, and diverse group of friends.
Anastasia is a normal, yet distinctly unique teenager who loves performing, making people laugh, and even going to school! Her favorite subject is Science, especially Chemistry, and when she’s not studying, you can find her at her dance studio, where she rehearses for her dance competitions, and vocal showcases.