Looking at old photographs is like stepping into a tardis

Most people would agree,
that a smell drifting towards you,
can transport you back to a moment,
you didn’t even know you had forgotten.
As you inhale,
the years slip away,
and with great clarity you have full 20/20 recall.

I have always believed,
that nothing in life brought back a memory,
more clearly than smell.
A certain perfume can bring back the memory of a past love.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkay/3957171169/">Images by John 'K'</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
For myself the smell of sweat pea in a garden, reminds me of the summers of my childhood.
Breathing in the smell of a newborn baby,
transports me back to those magical early days of mothering,
when I fell in love with my children.

However yesterday I was cleaning out cupboards,
in a desperate attempt,
to find room for even more rubbish I for some reason wanted to keep,
when I discovered boxes filled with baby memories,
and some filled with loose photographs.

Without the hint of a smell,
I was transported back in time.
The past twenty five years of my life,
all there in those few boxes.
Cards, photos and baby tags.
Baby clothes, first shoes and blankets.
But it was the photographs I was drawn to.
There were hundreds of them.

My two girls were with me,
and they pounced on them.
Initially I wanted to keep going,
trying to finish the “tidying”.
However it was impossible,
the lure of reliving past memories just too great to resist.

As I held some of those photographs in my hand,
I felt as if I was looking at a paused DVD.
The photo in front of me just a still,
a moment in time paused,
whilst in my head the full video played.

The baby photos,
documenting each childs arrival,photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/blythe_d/1451273161/">blythe_d</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
and first meetings with their siblings.
The many milestones along the way,
first shoes, first steps, first day at school,
all captured on film.
Some photos screamed at me,
the laughter so loud I could almost hear it.

Eventually we had viewed every photo, at least once.
The tidying long forgotten.
The room now looked an even bigger mess.
The girls disappeared,
and reluctantly I repackaged the past.

Hours have passed,
and yet I cannot turn off the DVD playing in my head.
I hear the shouts and laughter of eight children under seven playing.
The calls for drinks, and snacks.
The many many rows that were had,
“your cheating”, “that’s not fair”, “I’m not playing”.
and all the tears that were shed.

The frustration and tiredness I felt in those days,
is completely forgotten.
As I happily sit here tonight,
replaying the DVD in my head,
and marveling at the power of a photograph,
to transport me back to the past.

photo credit: blythe_d via photopin cc
photo credit: Images by John ‘K’ via photopin cc

19 thoughts on “Looking at old photographs is like stepping into a tardis

  1. So true. And the era of digital cameras may well wipe out this world for future parents….The smell of teabags takes me back to my childhood. I look like a right numptie sniffing soggy, steaming breakfast tea bags balancing on a teaspoon…

    1. How true. I had almost forgotten how the days of actual photographs are almost gone. As for you sniffing tea bags, it is funny what we do to remember.

  2. This is so beautiful–and truly kismet that I stumbled across it tonight–as I’ve just written on almost the exact same thing. Must be something in the air tonight . . .

    1. Thank you. I have just returned after reading your piece. It is indeed strange the prompts that bring us back in time. Definitely must be something in the air that “prompted” us both to write these posts.

        1. Oh great. Photos are so lovely when they are put together in an album/book. Now you can have an afternoon reminiscing without the mess!

    1. Yes I agree. Especially nowadays as they click away at themselves constantly with facebook in mind. However the girls loved looking back and remembering their very early days. It was a great time to chat together too.

  3. You should scan all these old photos, tric, then upload them from your computer to a cloud storage site like flickr.com (or google’s cloud photo storage). Having done that you can then delete them from your PC so they don’t take up all your hard drive space, knowing that the pics can then be viewed by you or anyone else (friend or family) you decide to share them with at any time and from any place when they chose to do so, thereby safeguarding the photos from being lost or damaged (say in a house fire for instance) in the future. If you add some notes to the pics when you post them then they will become a lasting legacy that future generations of your family will be able to share in and enjoy

    1. This is a really good idea. Thanks Duncan. I have a son at home for the summer looking for something to do this is the very thing! I’ll keep you posted if we ever get it done.

  4. What an endearing moment for you… I loved it. Mine are still little, and I feel tired and crazy ALOT! But…I also enjoy them so much. I enjoyed reading about your good memories with your babies:)

  5. I so agree with the person who posted about digital cameras where we can delete everything with one button. If we don’t print them out it will all be for naught. It is a painful journey to look back sometimes but it is always with much fondness and tears. I miss those days and have for a long time. I love your writing style. You are very talented.

    1. Thank you. I think old photos have a wonderful power to bring us right back in time. My mum loves spending time with my 11 year old. As she is the youngest grandchild they have a very special relationship.

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