We’re going on vacation today, and yesterday I realized I couldn’t find my camera. I did the usual frantic search around the house and backtracking. I fretted because, not only were we going on vacation, but I wanted to do this huge Easter egg hunt with the kids in the backyard and take pictures, because spring has finally arrived, gosh darn it, and I needed to capture typical spring moments with the kids on camera.
An hour later, I was resigned to buying a new camera that night, reminding myself that the old one had been on the fritz and was probably going to die on our vacation anyway, most likely during a must-see moment, which would be even more frustrating.
I was still a bit glum about not being able to take pictures off the egg hunt. Spreading out plastic eggs in the backyard, an image came to me. I was at the victory parade in Boston in 2004 after the Red Sox won the World Series. It had been an ongoing “joke” in our family that if the Red Sox ever won the World Series, we were going to go and dance in the streets of Boston. When the moment actually came, I knew I HAD to go. No one else went through on their promise, but I was there, because I had to see the moment, I had to capture every last bit of it, and so there I stood on the streets near Fenway, and the experience was incredible – the crowds, the feel-good feeling in the midst of a dreary fog, heck, even the man near me holding up a curse of the Bambino makeshift coffin in his arms.
The victory parade was everything I’d always hoped it would be. Except for the moment when the Red Sox actually went by. In that relatively brief instant, I found myself juggling both a video camera and digital camera (at the time an older model that did not have video), racing to get shots on both, being jostled by the crowd, and eventually realizing that in the bustle of trying to capture the moment, I’d actually in some ways missed the moment.
As a kid, I didn’t document vacations, I just lived them, the way we all did. I didn’t need a camera to bring to memory the sounds of the motor boat on Flying Pond at our camp in Maine. In the dead of winter when I’d hear snowplows push by at night I’d scrunch my eyes tighter and imagine for a moment they were the sounds of those boats on the lake on the bluest of summer days. My mind alone took a picture of the mountains you can see as you crest over the hill from Vienna into Farmington, or even the people who would stand on highway overpasses on Sunday afternoons, waving goodbye to all of the vacationers driving home. As a kid, I wasn’t trying so hard.
Our vacation will probably not much resemble one of those you might see on TV (who's really does?). We are going on a very long car ride and I have no idea what Ethan will think of all of this (last time at the hotel there was much light switching and toilet flushing). Maybe we won't have a million Kodak moments. Maybe we'll have three. Maybe I'll put down the camera and just give my kids a hug.
Last night as the sun set the kids found their eggs and ate too much candy. Later I bought a camera at Target in about five minutes. Vacation is here and I'm just going to live it, not live for it, not mold it. Bring on those Smoky Mountains!