For years after I got divorced, I didn’t think about the two boxes of wedding photos I left at my ex-husband’s apartment. Last year, a decade after I left the apartment, my Ex moved and asked me if I wanted the photos. One box contains the wedding square-shaped proofs and the other box contains the hand-printed photo album. Instinctively I said I’d take them thinking I always had the option of getting rid of them later. I considered one day our son may want to look through them. I also thought about the people now dead, yet preserved in these photos, from an event which happened, even if the occasion it celebrated has since been rescinded.
It’s awkward to flip through the photo album and look at me 15 years ago, dressed in a dress which never fit properly, marrying a man I never really matched. We both look younger and more innocent and my eyes dart around the photos searching for clues in the photos. Where is the magic? Where is the spark? Where is the passion?
After the wedding was over, I remember thinking, “That was it?” I had a nervous stomach and diarrhea before they announced us and waited for a euphoric epiphany feeling during our dance. I tried to soak it all in, waiting to be floating in a cloud stamped with “best day of my life” and was grossly disappointed when it never came. I put my black winter parka over my wedding dress and walked the few blocks from the wedding venue, across the street from The Flatiron Building to the W Hotel in Union Square, where we spent the night, overslept, and missed our flight to our honeymoon. We caught a later flight and flew first class. We traveled to three islands and stayed at the Four Seasons in Maui. I had controlled as much as I could to make the nuptial celebration pretty and perfect; what I couldn’t direct was the course of the actual marriage.
It’s easy to analyze this all retroactively; reviewing snapshots with scrutinizing critiques, but in the moment I was clueless, hopeful 26-year-old girl who wanted to be loved so damn badly. I thought I was creating my fairytale, but turns out I was only creating memories. Memories forever immortalized in these two boxes for which I have to find storage in my new house, in my new life, with my new husband.
Incidentally, I am also on the hunt for a photo storage solution for the hundreds of curling black-and-white photos I inherited from my grandmother of my parents’ wedding 43 years ago. They divorced after 25 years and I still look at these photographs longingly, convinced I have never seen either one of my parents as happy or in love as they look in those photos. Also, over 50% of the people in the wedding photos are dead and I feel a sense of responsibility to preserve them as historical artifacts of our ancestry for all future generations.