My brother was a monkey.
Not really, of course. But many years ago – many years ago, like forty-five or so – he liked to climb things, like this chair in my grandmother's house:
and this tree in my grandmother's backyard:
|Also shown in this picture are my cousins Carrie and Heather
Come to think of it, maybe he was only a monkey at my grandmother's house!
In any case, what I prize about old photographs like these is not just that they remind us what we used to be like – including the fact that my brother was a monkey, which I had completely forgotten – but also that they remind us what the places we used to spend our time were like. I especially love pictures taken at my grandmother's house; I always see things in them I hadn't thought about in years – like the painting of the man praying over his bread on the wall of that eating area just behind Jeff in the second door-frame-climbing picture; and the flowerdy wallpaper on that same wall; and the flowerdy curtains and flowerdy seat-cushion in that same room, which you can't see in the bottom picture of Jeff clinging to the top of the door frame, but which you can see through the open door on the right side of the frame in the first picture above, the chair-climbing picture, and which you can see (the curtains, at least) have been changed by the time the third picture above, the one where Jeff is preparing to climb the door frame, was made, two or three years later; and the black bell on the wall just beside the door frame Jeff is climbing; and the black telephone mounted to the wall on the other side of the door frame; and the lighting fixtures; the plastic plants; the furniture…. It's all precious to see now, and it all fills me with that combination of happiness and melancholy that is nostalgia.
I've written this before, but though there are many wonderful things about my life now, sometimes I really miss the life I had forty-five years ago. And not just because my brother was a monkey.
And also not because, apparently, Tab was readily available back then.