Last night I was at the home of a good friend when another friend came by with a photo album. The three of us have known each other for 25 years and in this album were images from so many good times. It was full of familiar faces, kids playing at the beach, barbecues, a day on the "Chief Commanda", birthdays, anniversaries and just plain pics. We laughed as we saw each other as young moms, our kids in overalls, our faces young and full of energy. There were friends we'd forgotten, some we'd lost and some who, like us have gone grey, still happily married and bragging about grandchildren now the ages of the kids we chased in those pictures.
It was easy to recall the day when each of those photos was taken. There's something about a photo that triggers the mental video embedded in our heads. It transports us back to that exact moment and allows us to relive it again with clarity. Now that I've returned to the beginning of For Better or For Worse, it's like looking at old family photographs. Things I'd forgotten are suddenly within reach. When I add material to the story, I'm back in the Lynn Lake house again. My kids are 2 and 7. I'm folding laundry with a child on my hip, listening to CBC on the radio and wondering if I'll have time to make supper before the school open house begins. My son is running around the house ...kitchen, hallway, livingroom, kitchen, hallway, livingroom.. and my nerves are in check because it's -40 degrees outside and he's doing something useful...he's tiring himself out.
I love being able to write about this time again, because I'm separated from the reality that made me so sarcastic and perhaps a little negative at the time. I couldn't possibly write today what I wrote then. I don't have the frustrations or the anxiety. I don't have a house that's constantly in need of organization and cleaning and repairs. I don't need babysitters nor do I need the patience of Job. Everything is in retrospect and as such, it's a joyful jumble of all things young. For me all the negatives have diminished with time, which is as it should be, and with the view I have now, I can focus on the funny stuff. I look forward to the next few months of working on this story - which is not my family, but is. It's their spirits that come through in the characters I draw and as in the photographs last night, I see us all through =bifocals; a metaphor, perhaps for the two worlds I live in: one real, the other imaginary.
My friends and I agreed to meet again, all of us bringing our photo albums. You don't need a time machine when you have photographs....or a comic strip which takes you back to "remember when".