A few weeks ago, I wrote about my oldest friend, Ella – the one person in this world who has stuck by me through thick and thin (quite literally, when it comes to our body sizes). I wanted to find a photo of us to accompany the piece. Ideally, I was looking for one of those over-the-top cute photos where the two little girls have their arms around each other and are smiling at the camera, full of hope for the future.
So I went to my mom, who has all of my childhood photos. “Do you have any photos of Ella and me together?”
“Probably,” she said, directing me to several photo boxes in the corner of her office closet. Together, we pulled them down and began sorting through them. In those boxes, I found pictures of me with one of my best Cottey friends, with a cousin who hasn’t spoken to me in more than twenty years, with a little girl who was always more of a “frenemy,” even with the two little boys who lived in the house behind me. Of Ella and me? Not a one before we were teenagers. In fact, I was only able to put my hands on a single photo with both of us in it. Neither of us are looking at the camera, and the only reason I know that’s me in the background is because Ella and I were wearing matching jackets.
Mom sorted through all of the photos just to be sure I hadn’t missed any. After giving the subject some more thought, she decided that any photos of us as small children must have been ordered as slides. Mom didn’t start insisting on prints until I was half grown, apparently. I don’t know what to do with that information. The photos aren’t mine; they belong to my parents. If they were mine, I might try to have them converted to digital format so that they aren’t lost forever. But how important are they, really? If I had the photos, what would I use them for, other than occasionally illustrating some tale from my childhood? I have no children. My niece and nephew may love me, but I’m still just an aunt by marriage. Ultimately, they won’t care about my family history.
Still, I find it a little disconcerting that I have no way to prove that Ella has been my friend since childhood. She could have been a figment of my imagination, for all you know.
What would you do: have them converted or forget about them?